Loop Track

Loop Track - Lake Rotoiti - Nelson Lakes National Park

Loop Track

Lake Rotoiti - Nelson Lakes National Park

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Lakeshore rock gardens


4.5 km return | 1 hour 30 minutes return

Forest and lake. And a community driven ecological restoration project.


In St Arnaud, Kerr Bay Road is signposted on the right. Park at the DoC visitor centre or continue to the lake edge. The start of the track is signposted at the eastern end of Kerr Bay (left looking towards the lake).


The track is well marked and signposted. Following the track clockwise, head past the junction with the Honeydew Walk and continue to the junction with the St Arnaud Range Track (by the stream). Head right over the undulation to follow a creek back to the lakeshore. Then return by the lakeshore, the most scenic section of the walk and on a better grade.


The Alpine Fault is the major geological feature of New Zealand and pervades the landscape in every way. This major gash runs along the spine of the entire country, entering the land just north of Milford Sound and following the western side of the Southern Alps. At around Arthurs Pass, it splinters into a number of north-east trending faults and passes through this area.

It was first recognised by Harold Wellman in 1953, at a time before plate tectonics and continental drift were on the geological scene. The fault represents the juncture between the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate, in Fiordland the Australian Plate being subducted under the Pacific Plate. This is just one way in which New Zealand gets one over the Aussies. Further north, the reverse is true and along some sections, the fault is actually known as a transform fault. This basically means that the two plates are sliding past each other, with both horizontal and vertical displacements. Geologists have ascertained the rate of movement to be around 20mm per year (about the same rate fingernails grow), although, tectonic movement associated with earth tremors occurs in frightening jumps of up to 8 horizontal metres and 12 vertical metres at a time!

The fault runs right through the Lake Rotoiti area.


Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, like many such organisations in New Zealand, is a community driven association of local volunteers, partnering with the Government Department of Conservation, who provide expertise and some funding.

The project was hatched in 1997 and the area designated as a ‘Mainland Island’. Since the introduction of humans and especially Europeans to the New Zealand landmass, the raft of introduced predators has wreaked havoc on our native biota. Evolving in isolation for 60 million years and in the absence of mammalian predators, many of our native species have suffered extinction or calamitous decline since Maori and European arrival. With such sobering history, recent initiatives such as this attempt to create safe havens, where predator control, habitat regeneration and re-introductions aim to give native birds a platform for recovery. More information is displayed at the DoC visitor centre.

Polynesian History

Nelson Lakes has been a traditional meeting place for Maori, traversing Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) in search of greenstone. The traveller could head west via the Buller River, East via the Waiau, or back towards Edenhouse via the Motueka Valley. The natural crossroads at Lake Rotoiti gave food-a-plenty from the forest and abundant eels in the lake.


Feature Value Info


DOC Nelson/Tasman

Central government organisation


South IslandNelson RegionSt Arnaud


  • Walking
  • Free


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DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick