The Southern Alps find their beginning in Nelson Lakes National Park, 102,000 hectares of mountains and freshwater habitats south of Nelson City. Two beautiful alpine lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa, form the heart of the park. Both are surrounded by steep mountains and fringed to the shore by native honeydew beech forest.
The bush line, where forest gives way to alpine plants, is a remarkable feature of the park; the change is abrupt, as if drawn with a ruler. In summer the alpine fields burst into flower - blooms are white, light blue and sometimes yellow.
A highlight of the park is the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, a conservation initiative which aims to create a pest-free refuge in the honeydew beech forests, paving the way for the recovery and re-introduction of native species in the area.
There are wonderful lakeside tracks and short walks in this park, including the Black Valley Walk, Peninsula Nature Walk, Mount Robert, St Arnaud Range Track, Lake Rotoiti Circuit and Whisky Falls. Longer hikes are also possible, with overnight accommodation in Department of Conservation huts. The most popular long hikes are the Travers/Sabine Circuit and the trip up to Lake Angelus, a beautiful alpine lake. Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa are both known for good trout fishing.
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