Nelson Lakes National Park

Hiking the Mount Robert Circuit Track, Nelson Lakes National Park

One of two popular (and fairly easy) day walks which take you into the mountains above Lake Rotoiti, the Mount Robert Circuit Track features some incredible views of Nelson Lakes National Park. This loop track is actually two tracks joined together and you can start in two different places — keep reading to find out more!

The Pinchgut Track

Starting at the end of Mount Robert Road, the Pinchgut Track is the track I’d recommend taking up to Bushline Hut. You could also take Paddy’s Track up (and then come down Pinchgut Track) but I think the way I did it is ideal (more on that later). The track leads steadily uphill for quite a while and is pretty tiring. You’ll get a good view of Lake Rotoiti, St Arnaud and the surrounding bush / farmland for most of the way up.

Mount Robert Circuit Track, Nelson Lakes, New Zealand

After a fairly uneventful (and quite tiring) climb, the track flattens out and you’ll soon arrive at a small hut. From there it’s pretty much all downhill, first to Bushline Hut and then back down the hill on Paddy’s Track. The section leading to Bushline Hut is very photogenic and it’s comforting to know you’ve already done all the hard work.

A hut at Mount Robert, Nelson Lakes National Park, New ZealandThe track to Bushline Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Bushline Hut

This small hut is a good place to have a break. One of my favourite spots on the whole track is nearby too — head around the toilets (you’ll see a track) for an awesome view of Lake Rotoiti.

A stunning view from the Mount Robert Circuit Track, Nelson Lakes, New Zealand

Paddy’s Track

Paddy’s Track is a lot better than Pinchgut Track, mainly because the scenery is more varied. If you walked up this track and down Pinchgut Track you’d have your back to it for most of the way and it’s far easier to appreciate good views when you’re walking down instead of struggling up. It shouldn’t take too long to walk back down to Mount Robert Road. The track comes out about 500 metres down from the end of the road, so you’ll have to walk up to your car.

View of Lake Rotoiti from Mount Robert, New ZealandPaddy's Track, Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Mount Robert Circuit Track: The Details

The Mount Robert Circuit is around 9 km and is easy apart from the first initial climb. It took me just under 2.5 hours to complete but I was going pretty quick (I did stop a lot though). The terrain is easy to hike over but there might be some snow and ice at the top. Be prepared for cold conditions as the weather changes quickly in alpine areas like this.

Lake Rotoiti from the Mount Robert Circuit Track, Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Getting There

The track starts at the end of Mount Robert Road, which is a short distance from St Arnaud, the main town in Nelson Lakes National Park. It’s a narrow gravel road so drive with caution. Apparently, the road closes when it’s icy — I did it in winter and it was fine but it’s something to be aware of. The hike to Whiskey Falls is also located on Mount Robert Road — I highly recommend this track!

St Arnaud Range Track

The St Arnaud Range Track is the other popular alpine day walk in Nelson Lakes National Park. It’s beautiful as well — check out my post!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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