St Awesome (Part Two) – St Arnaud / Lake Rotoiti

“On a Mish” #387 St Awesome (Part Two). St Arnaud / Lake Rotoiti. Nelson Lakes National Park. 12.8.2023. This country may be small on a world’s stage but, when you really get amongst it like so many lucky tourists do, you start to appreciate how big and beautiful the mighty South Island truly is. I had an opportunity to test out my cousin’s new Rental Jimny which comes with all the camping gear needed. For well over a decade I had been telling people how awesome Aotearoa really is and now, as a consequence of a never ending injury, I was riding in style towards a place I had heard of many times but never actually visited…

There are two major lakes that sit within Nelson Lakes National Park, Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa. As I drove past the turn-off to Lake Rotoroa I saw the first of many ‘No Dogs” signs. It would seem that this is a common sign found in this pristine area. After acquiring young Ernest I have joined the ranks of people who mission around with their furry four-legged friends. It was a good thing I did some research prior to leaving as there is only one dog-friendly campground in the area. Teetotal Campsite is just west of St Arnaud and provides a place to park up for people with pooches. The fact that there is a natural ice skating pond there gives you an idea of what the winter temperatures are like!

It was late morning by the time I arrived at the camping ground, and thanks to the very chilly conditions I was the only one there with a tent. In places there was snow on the ground from the day before and it crunched underneath my feet as I wandered around looking for the perfect camping spot. Eventually I settled on one at the western edge of the area and after setting up my tent I could finally kick back and enjoy my mini victory.

I had used my ‘Jimny Camping Kit’ and thanks to the tent’s genius design it was up in a jiffy.

It had taken my entire life plus and added day waiting thanks to the snow, but I was finally in St Arnaud and everyone who had told me that I would love it up there was 100% correct!

My first goal was to see the great Nelson Lake that sits very close to the village, Lake Rotoiti. It would appear that people of the past have been very disrespectful with their k9 companions. There are so many signs telling you where you can and more importantly can’t go with dogs. Luckily there are a couple of places near the lake that are dog friendly and it is best to stick to those spots if you don’t want to have a large fine. There was no way I was leaving Ernie behind so I went to where we could see the lake and not see a large amount of money come out of my wallet!!

After a quick visit to Lake Rotoiti we went back to Teetotal to settle into the chilly location that would be our home for the next couple of nights. By now the sun had long gone and the frigid temperatures reminded me why it is possible to have an outdoor ice skating rink in the same area. I wasn’t surprised to find I was the only one in the camping ground that night.

I got the idea while cooking my dinner of jumping into the Jimny and heading down to the lake to enjoy my meal with the mountains. This was a very good idea, I wonder what I will get up to tomorrow…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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