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Jan 06
2015

Earplugs

Late booking of a great walk is not recommended, especially when it's the easiest great walk, the Abel Tasman. Huts were all booked for the next two weeks and we managed to find only one option for camping on January 7th. That left us 4 days to spare. The weather was good and so we decided not to waste any time and drove south to the Nelson Lakes park. We stayed at Hu Ha Bikepackers. This is a lovely farm, located 25 minutes drive north to the park. We loved the place and luckily we bought food before leaving Nelson, because there is no supermarket or even a small grocery shop anywhere close to the farm.

Hu Ha Bikepackers Hu Ha Bikepackers

The next day we hiked the Saint Arnaud track. This 5 hours return track (14 km) leads you through the bush for about one hour and a half. Once we left the bush, a great view opened and we could see Rotoiti lake. Another steep climb to the ridge took us about half an hour and then walking on the ridge for 30 minutes or so led us to a great viewpoint of the lake. I have to admit, I wasn't happy. I was hoping to get to the viewpoint before the clouds covered the sky. Well, the blame is on me, I knew it will be cloudy at noon and yet, decided to start the track late. Add the fact that I didn't know how steep and long the cilmb is which made me think I'm not in shape, yet. looking back at the pictures I feel stupid, the view was amazing anyway.

Saint Arnaud Saint Arnaud

Saint Arnaud Saint Arnaud

Saint Arnaud Saint Arnaud

Thanks to my camera's built-in GPS, I found out that the lake was 500 meters above sea level and the peak was approximately 1800 meters above sea level. This means we climbed 1300 meters in 2 and a half hours. With that in mind, you can decide if you want to go for it.

We booked the Angelus Hut for the next day. This is a well known hut, which was built just besides the Angelus lake. You can get to the hut from several routes and different tracks. We chose the easiest one with minimum bush on the way. The first hour is a well paved trail, climbing from the carpark to mount Robert. On the way up we could see part of the Rotoiti lake, the one we saw from Saint Arnaud, only that day we had more sun so the lake had a different color. The rest of the track climbs slowly on the ridge from 1550 to about 1800 meters. The view is amazing, rocky peaks surrounds the trails and colorful ponds can be seen everywhere. Before arriving to the Angelus hut you'll have to struggle your way through big boulders. This day is a 12 km hike and starts from 900 meters above sea level.

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

There are 2 lakes, the big one contains drinking water and swimming is allowed in the second. I heard of people staying at the hut for another day. Yes it's beautiful and relaxing, but personally I think it's a waste of time. Note that you need to book the hut in advance and it's quite popular these days.

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

We met a few travelers who did the Travers-Sabine Circuit track and stayed their last night at the hut. The second day of our track continues to the way they came from and it's a longer day (19 km) and the last 3 hours are supposed to be in a bush. It seems that they weren't too enthusiastic from the view so far so we decided to return the same way we came.

Callus Callus

One painfully earned tip: TAKE EARPLUGS TO ANY HUT. I love to take some stars photos and it's getting late until you can actually see stars and it's dark enough. I came to sleep at 23:30 when the hut was extremely quiet, so I took my bag outside to avoid making any noise in the hut. I was closing my sleeping bag happily and getting ready for a good night sleep before realizing that a rather elderly couple with two children entered the room and started making noise. After a few minutes they fell a sleep. You probably guess by now, the same man was snoring like a tractor. At 2:30 am I took my trekking pole and started hitting the man's leg. That did not make any difference, but gave me some satisfaction. At 03:00 am I got my tablet out (I usually don't take it to tracks) and put some music and only then I got some sleep. Wait, it wasn't over yet. 07:00 they got up, the woman stayed in the room, making the loudest noise you can make while arranging her bag, with so much plastic bags. More rudeness was yet to come. I was eating breakfast with Maya when this man came and asked me to come outside, when I'm barefoot and eating breakfast, just to take their family picture. I was so shocked I actually said yes, it was either saying yes or killing him, but I couldn't find any sharp knife around.

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

The second day was clearer and sunny and the view, again, was different. Look at the color of Lake Rotoiti and you can understand how dramatically the weather can affect the view. The way back took us only 3 and a half hours, while getting to the hut in the first day took us 6 hours. On the way back, the same rude family blocked the trail, preventing us from coming down and others getting up. They only let us pass when I asked impatiently.

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus Track Angelus Track

Angelus hut was one of the best tracks we did so far and it is highly recommended. Next is the Abel Tasman.