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November 2017 Issue
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Abundant birds and spectacular views

The view from Parachute Rocks, over Lake Rotoiti. Photo: Pat Barrett
This entry is part 5 of 18 in the series Ranger Secrets

Parachute Rocks, Nelson Lakes National Park

Ranger: Nik Joice, Nelson

With an abundance of native birds and views over Lake Rotoiti, ranger Nik Joice says the Parachute Rocks viewpoint is a spectacular day-walk, away from the park’s well trodden trails.

The viewpoint is high on the St Arnaud Range, in the Rotoiti Mainland Island – an intensive predator control zone. Joice first visited the viewpoint while conducting bird counts in the area.

“It’s quite a powerful spot,” he says. “After 20 years of pest control, there are lots of kaka, robins, bell birds and tui – it’s as close to predator free as you can get on the mainland.”

The view also gives insight into how the landscape was created.

“You can see the Alpine Fault – literally where the two parts of the South Island meet – and you look down on Lake Rotoiti, which was formed by a glacier.”

From Parachute Rocks you can continue to the range crest, with views of the Wairau, Motupiko and Buller rivers.

“It’s a meeting of three important rivers. The Wairau flows to the East Coast, the Motupiko flows into Tasman Bay, while the Buller flows all the way to the West Coast.”

Joice says the walk is particularly striking just before sunrise.

“The dawn chorus is pretty special,” he says. “You can also walk up at night and hear the odd kiwi – about 30 live there now.”

Parachute Rocks is part of the St Arnaud Range Track, a 10km return track that takes about five hours and starts at Kerr Bay on Lake Rotoiti.

“The track is well formed and is suitable for children. I’m surprised how few people know about it,” says Joice.

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