Last Updated: 24th Feb 2024

Very Experienced

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I've done it Done

Ultra Tour du Nelson Lakes

St. Arnaud, Tasman

Submitted by Malcolm Law

Last Updated: 24th Feb 2024

Very Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 153 ?

Gnarl Factor: 74 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote



Native bush



Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Gravel Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +10.4%

Average Downhill Gradient: -9.6%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






If you need a detailed description of this route you should NOT be attempting it. This is a serious undertaking in what can be extreme mountain environments. Definitely for very experienced, well equipped runners and NEVER to be attempted in winter or in bad weather.
CHECK THE FORECAST FIRST - if you have anything but a clear weather window for the time you expect to be out there + a 12-hour buffer do NOT attempt this run.
Definitely recommend doing this anti-clockwise as you don't want to be tackling Robert Ridge late on the run in tired legs. A pre-dawn start means you get some easy terrain covered while it's still dark and are rewarded with daybreak on the Robert Ridge. This should also give you plenty of time to make it over Travers Saddle in daylight. Here's how it goes:
Start - Kerr Bay
Peninsula Track to West Bay
Follow road to Mt Robert Car Park
Climb up & along Robert Ridge (gets more technical the further along you go) to Angelus Hut
Followed Mt Cedric poled route & drop down the other side (very steep) to Sabine Hut
Sabine Track to West Sabine Hut
Travers Saddle Track to Travers Saddle (brutal climb out of bush to reach the tops)
Drop to Upper Travers Hut and follow trail all the way down Travers Valley
Cross river on swing bridge to get on Lakehead Track - follow this to Lakehead Hut and down the east side of Lake Rotoiti to return to Kerr Bay.

This trail includes the peaks Mount Robert and Julius Summit.

A classic extreme route with stunning views from the high points and lots of awesome bush trail.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

The lake is signposted from St Arnaud village - not hard to find!

1 km

2 minutes




Take care on the poled route sections, particularly if the weather has closed in.

Very patchy.

Waterproof leggings, 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 bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters

Until Angelus Hut there's no readily available drinking water. Top up here to get you to Sabine Hut. After that you'll have plenty available from the myriad streams and the other huts. Just be sure you have plenty on board before you get too high up towards Travers Saddle as there may be a dry stretch through to Upper Travers Hut at some times of the year.

This is very much a SUMMER ONLY route. Even in autumn and spring there can be deep snow on the high terrain. Snow is possible any time of the year. Check conditions with DoC before committing.

This is an extreme challenge in extreme mountain conditions. Only attempt it if you are a genuinely experienced mountain goat & the weather forecast is good. Best done in company rather than solo - carry a PLB either way. Make sure you leave intentions, either at the DoC office in St Arnaud or with a friend/family.
There is real avalanche danger May - November.

St Arnaud Lodge
Main Rd, St Arnaud village
Great food, beer & coffee and warm hospitality. The open fire is particularly welcoming on cold days.

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Trail Reviews

I fast packed this route over four days including a trip out to blue lake. The views from between Angelus Hut and Mt Cedric are some of the best I’ve ever seen. They are absolutely breathtaking. I applaud anyone who does this in one day, it’s a mission! Lots of steep ascents and descents and a good bit of, somewhat monotonous, river rambling! The good bits outweigh any negative thoughts of mine in regards running alongside a river though! Phenomenal trail!

Lauren Mai Anderson

March 16, 2022

An excellent tough day out. Plenty of points of interest along the way and varied terrain underfoot. The Travers Saddle climb is pretty brutal. Agree this is best done clockwise to get the tops done during daylight hours.

Ian Gilmour

December 20, 2020

I would put this as one of my favourite routes on the directory. The highlights are the technical running along Roberts Ridge & the views towards Waiau Pass from Mt Cedric. The Valley trails between the views from this high points are pleasant & runnable.Save this one for a long summer day, or split it up with an overnight in Upper Travers Hut.

Nelson Pearson

July 12, 2020

There are a lot of amazing routes to chose from in this country but this without question makes it into my top 3 favorite all time runs. Magic tops, big mountains, native bush and friendly robins make this a complete trip in every way. Look out for the East Sabine chasm, just before the big push up to Travers Saddle, it's breathtaking. I agree that if you are planning a loop via Robert Ridge and Mt Cedric going anticlockwise goes without saying, this means you have total control over when you are on the exposed tops. Make no mistake this is a big undertaking but one that will richly reward the prepared.

Tim Sutton

June 28, 2018

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.

Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut

Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut

Length: 24.5km

Level: Intermediate

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