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The Wilderness 100: The 9 best trips in the Nelson and Marlborough regions

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May 2020 Issue

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?


Welcome to the inaugural Wilderness 100 – an annual list of the best trips in the country. For the website version of this feature story, we’ve broken the trips down into regions and linked to those trips we’ve got route notes and maps for. 

So, without further ado, here are the best trips in the Nelson and Marlborough regions.

1. Abel Tasman Coast Track, Abel Tasman National Park

Life is a beach on the Abel Tasman Coast Track, DOC’s most relaxing Great Walk. With 20 campsites and four huts, trampers are able to plan their own adventure and find a slice of solitude in New Zealand’s busiest – and smallest – national park. DOWNLOAD

2. Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park

Voted in 2017 to be Wilderness readers’ favourite hut, the gorgeous 28 bunk Angelus Hut sits on the shore of Lake Angelus and should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s accessible by multiple routes – the most popular follows Robert Ridge. DOWNLOAD

3. Lees Creek Hut, Nelson

Overshadowed by neighbouring Nelson Lakes National Park, the Raglan Range offers quieter tramping in country that deserves more attention. From the Rainbow Valley, an easy track leads up the Lees Valley to the four-bunk hut, set on a pleasant grassy flat beneath the innumerable unnamed peaks of the Raglan Range.


Blue Lake on the Moss Pass route. Photo: David Hollis/Flickr

4. Moss Pass Route, Nelson Lakes National Park

Taking in tapu Rotomairewhenua/Blue Lake – boasting the world’s clearest freshwater – is just one of the highlights of the 4-5 day Moss Pass Route, which skirts the Mahanga Range via the Sabine and D’Urville rivers. Most trampers will shorten their trip with a water taxi across Lake Rotoroa. DOWNLOAD

5. Mt Richmond, Mt Richmond Forest Park

The most direct ascent of the Mt Richmond Range’s highest peak leaves from Richmond Saddle Road. Though possible to climb the 1760m summit in a day, trampers will likely seek refuge in Richmond Saddle Hut, and if transport is pre-arranged, an extended trip can return via Mt Fell Hut. DOWNLOAD

6. Pelorus Track, Mt Richmond Forest Park

This adventurous forest experience takes trampers over the Bryant Range, via the Pelorus Valley, over 3-4 days. Trampers will enjoy idling through ancient forest and plenty of swimming opportunities in the crystal water.

Serenity on the Queen Charlotte Track. Photo: Weldon Kennedy/Flickr

7. Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds

It quickly becomes apparent on the Queen Charlotte Track just how many kilometres of coastline are wrapped up in the squiggled mess of Marlborough Sounds. The 71km track takes trampers through tranquil bush via some of the sounds’ best-known bays, with plenty of accommodation and food options along the way.

8. St Arnaud Range Tarns, Nelson Lakes National Park

This lesser-known trip in the Nelson Lakes artillery doesn’t waste time in getting trampers into the St Arnaud Range from its trailhead at Lake Rotoiti. There are no huts on the track, but campsites aplenty amongst the tarns for adventurous boots.

9. Travers-Sabine Circuit, Nelson Lakes National Park
This classic loop takes in the idyllic Travers and Sabine river valleys, with a mid-point crossing of the Travers Saddle. With six huts stretched across the route, and several on side-tracks, trampers can choose their own adventure and spend a week or more exploring the park.