Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes National Park NZ

A real classic overnight tramp to Angelus Hut at Lake Angelus, in Nelson Lakes National Park, taking the rugged and scenic Robert Ridge Route.

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes

In my days of only doing day-walks I had often looked enviously at pictures of Lake Angelus (at 1650m), in Nelson Lakes National Park, thinking it was too far for a day-trip. It turns out you can do it in a day, even in winter, (we saw a few trail runners doing just that). But for time to soak in the views there are few better overnighters than the Robert Ridge Route to Angelus Hut.

The route first climbs Mt Robert (1421m) on the Pinchgut Track, where there are good views of Lake Rotoiti and west over plains to Mt Owen. (If you wanted a short day walk you could then return via Paddy’s Track to make a circuit). From there it’s along the increasingly rugged Robert Ridge, peaking at 1788m, before dropping to the shores of Lake Angelus at 1650m. The views start good and just keep getting better: a real classic.

After my wife booked the hut I watched the weather forecast with some dismay. It first signalled rain for days beforehand and days afterwards. But a few days out a minor miracle happened – a one day weather window opened up for our outward leg. So I can present you with some very sunny pictures of this fabulous walk, with only a spot of glare to ruin my shots of Lake Rotoiti early on. Track notes at the end.

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge: The Scenery

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Climbing up higher on Mt Robert on the Pinchgut Track. There were very nice views over plains north-west towards mountains. I think one of those in the distance might be Mt Owen, which is definitely on the to do list.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
A crappy glary photo that I put in a half-assed effort to fix, and included to show you Lake Rotoiti viewed from Mt Robert (1421m). Alas it was in cloud when we returned the next day otherwise I would have taken another shot without the sun directly in front.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Looking back over the tops towards the St Arnaud Range.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Julius Summit (1794m). From here the route was a lot more rocky (and sometimes slippery in snow/ice).
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Looking west.

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
More of the St Arnaud Range.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
An alternative route in bad weather is the Speargrass Creek Route (pictured here) and then the Speargrass Track..
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Snowy on the tops. I think the ridge is Christie Ridge.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Pretty rugged.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Can you feel the love?

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
A wide panorama taking in Angelus Peak, and Lake Angelus.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Views down to the lake and hut.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Lake Angelus
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Angelus Hut
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
One of the shots I took of Lake Angelus as we climbed a little on the west side to get a different view. The sun going down here.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Lake Angelus after sunset.

These shots from the next day…

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
A cracking sunrise viewed from the hut entrance. You can see the toilets there.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Fabulous sunrise over Lake Angelus.

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Looking a lot more wintery in cloudy conditions on the climb out.

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
We lost visibility for much of the way back but had a reprieve at this point. Nice mist and wind effects going on.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Descending Mt Robert on the Pinchgut Track again.
Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
Lichen covered beech trees.

Track Notes

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes
On a constructed track (the Pinchgut Track) to near the Mt Robert summit. From there it’s a poled route/ impact track to Lake Angelus (Robert Ridge Route). The route gets more challenging after roughly Flagtop, certainly after Julius Summit. We walked a bit past the hut in the late afternoon to get different views of the lake (dotted red line). 

It’s a pretty obvious marked route the whole way. At first a constructed track to near the summit of Mt Robert, then a poled route / impact track to the hut and beyond. The route gets more challenging after roughly Flagtop (1690m), certainly after Julius Summit (1794m). It requires some careful footing and occasional scrambling, especially in winter with snow/ice. You might also need ice axe and crampons in winter. It took us about 6.5 hours to the lake with some snow and ice, and about 5.5 hours back along the same route.

In bad weather conditions DOC recommend the Speargrass Track and Speargrass Creek Route. These minimise exposure to the elements and avoid visibility problems. You’d miss a lot of views doing it like this though, but I suppose if visibility is bad then it wouldn’t matter. Note there are a number of creek crossings required on this route. Other trampers reported water up to their knees (after some rain).

There’s plenty more info on these routes on the DOC website.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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