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Parachute Rocks and St Arnaud Ridge, Tasman

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Parachute Rocks and St Arnaud RidgeIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Sarah Biss

Info Info
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Trail Information





Tasman and Nelson

St. Arnaud

Back country - remote

Out and Back


Native bush
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

3:30 (Slow)
2:30 (Moderate)
1:45 (Fast)



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Starting at the edge of Lake Rotoiti, the track ascends steadily through beech forest up to St Arnaud Range. Much of the climb is in bush - a technical trail with plenty of tree roots and natural steps to negotiate as the trail zig zags its way up towards the bushline.

At about 1400m you come across Parachute Rocks and wonderful views of Nelson Lakes National Park. The track then gets steeper as you follow the orange poles up straight up an exposed slope, to the St Arnaud Ridge line. You are rewarded by spectacular views of the surrounding area, as described in "features of interest" .

Come back down the way you came.

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Features of interest

"The lower section of the walk crosses moraine terraces deposited by past glaciers. As you climb through the beech forest, notice how it adapts to suit the changing altitude. The lower slopes are dominated by large red beech, with a healthy sub-canopy of other species, such as broadleaf and putaputawētā. Higher up, silver beech and finally the hardy mountain beech take over. Note how the mountain beech becomes progressively stunted as you climb higher to the bushline. Above the bushline (at 1400 m), there are spectacular views from Parachute Rocks, which gained their name from a parachute-shaped gravel scree located just to the north. Trees give way to snow tussock, sub-alpine shrubs and, higher still, alpine herb fields. In late spring and early summer, these herbs flower, creating a glorious display of gold and white. The track climbs from here to the ridge line, where you are rewarded by spectacular views of the surrounding area: east down the Wairau Valley, north to Mt Richmond Forest Park, west towards Kahurangi National Park and the Buller Valley, and south to the rest of Nelson Lakes National Park. The truncated spurs of St Arnaud Range are evidence of further glacial action at higher altitude. Advancing rivers of ice cut off the ends of the ridges and, on the eastern side, gouged out the many small basins where small tarns now fill hollows left by the melting ice"
From: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/nelson-marlborough/nelson-lakes-short-walks-brochure.pdf

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 5%

Technical Single Track: 70%

Moderate Single Track: 15%

Easy Single Track: 10%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Drive to St Arnaud (85km from Nelson, 104km from Blenheim), then turn off the main rd (SH63) to Kerr Bay, Lake Rotoiti. Hang a left when you get to the lake and drive to the car park at the road end- just a couple of hundred metres along. Here you will see the signs for the start of various tracks- including St Arnaud Range Track.

    Easy safe parking at track entrance.

    1 km

    2 minutes



  • Staying Safe


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

    Take care to follow the orange marker poles above the bush line.

    Very patchy.

    Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece 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 blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.


    The tops can be very cold and wind swept at any time of year. In the winter the upper reaches of the track can be snowed under.

    Cold windy conditions on the ridge line.

  • Post run indulgence

    Alpine Lodge
    St Arnaud
    Less than a five minute drive from the track start/finish. Nice restaurant and bar, beer or coffee, you choose.

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