Angelus Peak is an imposing mountain located in the Nelson Lakes National Park. There are a number of tramping routes in this area, and in clear conditions you will be rewarded with magnificent views of Lake Rotoiti and of a pretty alpine basin complete with tarns. If you make it to the summit of Mt Angelus, it is likely you will also be able to bag Mt Robert along the way.
|Location/List||South Island, New Zealand|
|Location Coordinates||41? 54′ 27″ S, 172? 44′ 39″ E|
|Nearest Town/s||St Arnaud, Nelson
After checking track and weather conditions with the local DOC Office in St Arnaud (it can snow on the tops at any time of year), leave the township of St Arnaud and turn down the signposted road leading to the Western Lakeside DOC camping ground. Pass by the stunning little boat ramp (and perhaps take a moment to admire Mt Robert), and continue up the dirt road, past the campgrounds, and across the small bridge which traverses the source of the Buller River. Park at the last carpark at the very top of the road, where the Pinchgut Track begins.
Nelson Lakes Shuttles run a comprehensive shuttle service to many tramps in this area, including to the Mt Robert carpark from St Arnaud ($10 per person).
If you want to start or end the tramp from Coldwater Hut, you can use water taxis to transport you along the lake from St Arnaud. See Rotoiti Water Taxis.
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Our Recommended Route
The track zigzags many times up the mountain, first through grassland and scrub, and then through beech forest. Much of the original forest was burned down in an accidental fire in 1887 (and suffered from subsequent controlled fires for farming after this time), and the beautiful forest you pass through has regrown after replanting started in the 1960’s. After about 1 to 1.5 hours of ascending the switchbacks, you will reach the Bushedge Shelter. Take a moment to peek inside the cute little shelter, and note the informational sign about what to do if you see a tagged Kea in the park.
Not long after leaving the shelter, the track starts to sidle around the summit of Mt Robert, and snow poles begin to demarcate the route. The poled route continues down to the second of the small shelters (Relax Shelter), and then starts along Robert Ridge. From here you will walk near the summits of Flagtop (1690m), Julius Summit (1794m), and on to Angelus Hut. Allow 6-7 hours to get to Angelus Hut from Mt Robert carpark. Angelus Hut has 40 bunks, but it can be very busy in the summer.
The next day (if the weather is clear, and the mountain is clear of snow and ice) you can begin a trip up Angelus Peak by following the track to Sabine Hut. Once you pass Lake Angelus and then Hinapouri Tarn, you can then head up to Sunset Saddle and up to the summit of Angelus Peak.
From the summit, backtrack to Angelus Hut, where you might wish to stay another night. To return to St Arnaud you can return along the ridge (or drop down to the Speargrass Creek track) back to the Mt Robert carpark. The other option is to follow the poled Hukere Stream track down to Coldwater Hut. Be warned however, this track is steep and you will need to navigate slippery scree slopes and tussock. After dropping 1000m in about 4km, you will reach the Travers River, where the walking thankfully flattens out as you skirt along the river towards Coldwater Hut. From Coldwater Hut you can take a water taxi back to St Arnaud.
It would also be possible to do the trip in reverse, or start and finish from Coldwater Hut.
Any number of return of loop journeys can be used to bag Angelus Peak. We advise visiting the St Arnaud DOC office to obtain up to date information on the best route for your party.
Angelus Peak is in an alpine environment, and snowfalls can happen at any time of year. You need to be suitably equipped and experienced for an alpine trek, and obtain up to date local forecasts before setting out. Avoid the Robert Ridge track in high winds and carry your own water.