Wander along the Lakeside Track and the beauty and serenity of nature will soon overcome you.

Birdsong resounds through the beech forest and occasional gaps in the foliage reveal the deep blue waters of a glacial lake and a breathtaking backdrop of snowy mountains, draped in forest to the 1,000 metre ‘bushline.’

Nelson Lakes National Park is well-known for its jewel-like, glacial lakes; Rotoiti (‘little lake’ in Maori) and Rotoroa (‘long lake’). The park is popular year-round with bush walking, tramping, climbing, boating and fishing in summer and skiing in winter.

>From Lake Rotoiti, short walks can be taken on well-formed tracks like the Peninsula Nature Walk, Bellbird Track and Whiskey Falls Track. The St Arnaud Range Track is more ambitious at six hours return, but provides a sensational overview of the park. A multi-day Travers-Sabine Circuit includes the lofty Mt Roberts Ridge overlooking the entire region. In summer the route is decorated with white daisies, yellow buttercups, sundew and harebells. Severe glaciation during the last ice age is apparent in the steep-sided valleys, sharp-edged ridges and water-filled tarns.

Tramps to Lake Angelus and Travers-Sabine Circuit are as splendid and eye-catching as New Zealand’s Great Walks, but are far less crowded. From Lake Rotoroa an easy path can be followed along the western shoreline on the Braeburn Track. The Lakeside Track clings to the eastern shore and leads to the beautiful Sabine River valley.

St Arnaud, a tiny community above Lake Rotoiti with food and accommodation, is the base for local adventures and sightseeing. The visitor centre has interesting displays and a wealth of information on the area.

Nelson city, named for Britain’s most famous sailor, Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, is renowned for its arts and crafts, golden beaches and its sunny Mediterranean climate. Nelson has an interesting scenic lookout with views to the city, port and mountains. The lookout is called the ‘Centre of New Zealand’ due to its close proximity to the country’s geographic mid-point.

The combination of Nelson’s pleasant lifestyle, excellent visitor facilities and three national parks (Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi and Abel Tasman) makes this region utterly irresistible. It is well and truly part of the top-class South Island visitor circuit.