After the Abel Tasman, I took a few days to rest back in Nelson. I had planned to do my final Great Walk, the Heaphy, next. At 80km long, the Heaphy Track is the longest Great Walk, though not the most difficult. I picked the hostel called ‘The Bug’ for a 3 night stay. However, plans changed.
While at the hostel I was sharing a room with Kat and an Israeli girl by the name Danielle. She found out I enjoyed hiking, and that we both had similar interests. While I had planned to do the Heaphy track next, the Angelus Hut track was another I had wanted to do while in the area. Danielle was looking for someone to join her hiking in the Nelson Lakes area, so we did the hike together. Except the hike wasn’t exactly the Angelus track as originally planned.
Nelson Lakes National Park is about an hours drive south of Nelson, and is the northern area of the Southern Alps.
The Angelus hut can be reached via about 4 or 5 different routes, depending on what you want to see and do. Given our plan, we took the steepest route, up the Robert Ridge. This had the disadvantage of being steep right off the start, but on the plus side, you leave the tree line almost immediately.
After the first hour you get up on the ridge line, and for the next 4-5 hours you traverse ridges and peaks on your way.
We met up with an Israeli and two Germans on our way up, and hiked with them on and off for both today and the following day.
After one of the ridges we spotted a series of buildings far below. We had no clue about what they may be used for, but I found out afterwards that it was an old ski lodge. It is no longer in use, and was quite rudimentary when it was in operation, not having any lifts, just base facilities.
From there, we continued crossing the ridges. The track actually got more difficult as the day went on.
Mostly the difficulty came from the loose scree we often had to cross. No longer a simple path, but large loose rocks that had to be navigated.
I didn’t enjoy the scree crossings much, but the views along the way were spectacular.
Each time we crossed a ridge we expected to finally spot the Angelus Hut, but it continued to elude us for over 5 hours.
But finally, we spotted the Hut sitting aside Lake Angelus. Which meant it was picture time!
The view above the lake was quite spectacular. This lake is above 1600 meters, so very high in altitude compared to most in New Zealand.
Then it was down to the hut itself, with gorgeous views of the lake.
As did the morning sunrise.
Looking back at the hut as we left. It was a cozy hut, fitting 28 people and having *insulation*. This is a rarity here in New Zealand, but very welcome!
One last look at the reflective lakes. There was frost everywhere. It was a mighty cold night.
From there, we began our descent down the Cascade Route, the steepest way down. But that will be documented in another post, as my hiking had actually just begun…