Return to St. Arnaud and the Nelson Lakes
Given how much we'd enjoyed our previous visit to St. Arnaud, we decided on completing a return visit in September 2011. Once again, the region put on superb weather for us.
For the second time, we traipsed up Mount Robert. The weather at the top was much windier than the last time we'd visited, but the walk was again great fun - trudging through deep snow. The surface of the snow was fairly solid, with a thick icy crust, but when the crust broke, we either ended up thigh deep in snow or on a couple of occasions we stumbled over. A superb walk on a sunny Spring day. Highly recommended!
The next day, we hit the road in our hire car and walked a small stretch of the old Nelson Railway. A railway mainly intended to take coal from mines up in the Nelson Lakes down to the port in Nelson about 100km away. The railway was never attached to the main NZ railway network and construction was halted in the Great Depression. The line finally closed in 1955. We walked from Kawatiri Station along the old train line over an old rail bridge and through a rather long tunnel. Unfortunately, the walk wasn't that long at all and so we hit the road again towards the town of Murchison.
Once there, we took another interesting short walk - the Johnsons Creek Track. This track takes you through the bush to the site of a major landslip that resulted from the 1929 Murchison Earthquake. Some very odd pancake style rock formations and random boulders litter the end of the track. We also came across a herd of feral goats in the middle of the track at one point. Then it was back to town for lunch, followed by the long drive back to Blenheim to catch the plane home. En route, we stopped briefly at Lake Rotoroa and before catching the plane, we wandered for an hour or so around Central Blenheim.
For the second time, we didn't see any Kea at all! Though I understand that this isn't necessarily bad news as it may indicate they were nesting.