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Blue Lake - clearest water on earth, Tasman

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Blue Lake - clearest water on earthExperienced

Submitted by Sarah Biss

Info Info
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Trail Information





Tasman and Nelson

St. Arnaud

Back country - remote

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Native bush
Open ridges/tops


11:00 (Slow)
8:00 (Moderate)
6:00 (Fast)



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Although the Blue Lake is the destination, the scenery to and from is also superb. The track departs from the lake edge fairly quickly and tracks the Sabine River. The single track terrain alternates between native bush, tussock, rocky areas and some stream crossings. There are some areas of scree and some short sections signposted as avalanche prone.

You gradually gain altitude, with some short steep climbs and descents on route. West Sabine Hut is signposted across a swing bridge, approximately 2 hours in (for intermediate level runners). From here the climbing is a little steeper, until you arrive at the Blue Lake Hut. The hut is a decent stone throw from the amazing clear waters of the Blue Lake, situated in a large natural clearing, surrounded by mountainous peaks and native bush. Some may wish to carry on a bit further to look down on Lake Constance (signposted). Otherwise, once you have enjoyed the Blue Lake (no swimming or touching the water is permitted - let's help keep it pristine), turn around and head back exactly the way you came- this time enjoying a net downhill and the challenge of knocking off an unoffical ultra-marathon of technical running.

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Features of interest

"Blue Lake, known to Ngati Apa iwi as Rotomairewhenua (the land of peaceful waters) is thought to be the clearest fresh water in the world. While only seven metres deep the clarity of the lake water can exceed 80m which is close to the theortically calculated clarity of distilled water"

From www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/nelson-tasman/places/nelson-lakes-national-park/things-to-do/huts/blue-lake-hut/

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 20%

Technical Single Track: 50%

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Easy Single Track: 20%

Route Data


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  • Access

    This run starts at the Sabine Hut, near the jetty on the southern shore of Lake Rotoroa, in Nelson Lakes National Park. No roads at this end of the lake! If you do not have a boat, it is possible to book a water taxi. Contact the Nelson Lakes Visitors Centre for up to date information/options.

    Drive to the road end and jetty at the northern end of Lake Rotoroa, approximately 35 mins from St Arnuad - to catch your pre-arranged water taxi or launch your own boat. There is plenty of room for parking.

    42 km

    36 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    Keep a careful eye out for markers in the areas where the track is not obvious.

    If on the way to the Blue Lake you take the detour across the swing bridge to have a brief rest at West Sabine Hut, make sure you come back over the bridge again and keep going straight on towards the Blue Lake (at this point the track you have been on changes from being called the "Sabine Track", to the "Blue Lake Track"). Do NOT stay on the West Sabine Hut side of the river and take the Travers Saddle Track which heads south east, away from the river.

    Take NZTopo50 map sheet: BS24 and the DOC brochure on the Travers-Sabine Circuit is very useful to get a general overview of the area:

    Blue Lake hit is situated: Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1571514, N5343732

    Very patchy.

    Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

    In 2016 a group of us drank from the Sabine River and did not get ill.

    It is a very remote area, and can get very cold in winter. Take care with avalanche prone sections. It is a long day, even for very experienced runners, so make sure that you start early and allow yourself plenty of daylight to get the run done, best done at a time of year when there is plenty of daylight available- not winter. It would be a very difficult track to navigate in the dark with a head torch.

    See above.

  • Post run indulgence

    Alpine Lodge
    St Arnaud
    You'll be starving and this place serves a good variety of food, plus a bar.

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