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Kiwi Classic – Angelus Circuit

So you're eyeing up a Kiwi Classic hiking tour, and want to know more about the three-day adventure in Nelson Lakes National Park? Excellent, you're in the right place.

We like to say that the Kiwi Classic is our most physically challenging trip, and while it's still a 'moderately active' trip overall, this part of the adventure offers fitter explorers an extra challenge, and as such is one of the highlights of the tour. If you choose the 'Hiking' option rather than the 'Kayaking' option, these second-to-none views await you on this unique experience.

During this part of your adventure, you'll be carrying a larger pack and sleeping gear rather than your usual day pack. It's also the perfect time to use two walking poles, as we will be leaving the path most trodden and exploring as the locals do!

Day 1: St Arnaud to Lakehead Hut

Hike alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut.
Track features: Beech forest, undulating track, some tree roots, muddy patches and small stream crossings.
Lakehead Hut: communal living and sleeping, shared with other hikers exploring the area.

Group of guests at Lake Rotoiti

We start the hike from the shores of Lake Rotoiti.

Beech Forest Angelus Circuit

Then you'll wind through Beech Forest along the lake's shores.

Guests hiking around Lake Rotoiti

It's gorgeous landscape through here! You'll be carrying your sleeping gear for the next three days.

Admiring the views at Lake Rotoiti

Picturesque Lake Rotoiti - the sights through here are incredible, and only get better from here.

Lake Rotoiti Nelson Lakes National Park

The easiest day of walking is almost complete, just around the corner is Lakehead Hut where we will have a meal and a cosy sleep in the New Zealand wilderness.

Guests at Lakehead Hut on the Angelus Circuit

Thus begins the purest Kiwi experience - your first night in a backcountry hut!

Day 2: Lakehead Hut to Angelus Hut

Start the day with a river crossing (your guides will teach you everything you need to know to do this safely).
Morning Track features: steady climb through beech forest, some tree roots, muddy patches, small stream crossings and swing bridges.

Morning by Lakehead Hut

Awaken refreshed from sleeping close to nature.

River Crossing Angelus Circuit

The first of several river crossings. Your guides will teach you how to do this.

Swing bridge crossing on the Angelus Circuit

Enjoy the thick New Zealand forest from within the tree tops as you cross gorges via swingbridge.

Navigating boulders on the Angelus Circuit

We're getting away from the 'beaten path' with this hike, and doing it 'Kiwi Style'. Your hiking poles will help you navigate the uneven path.

Climbing through beech forest

The canopy above the undulating path is gorgeous.

Orange track markers on Angelus Circuit

The adventure begins - follow the orange track markers!

Completing river crossing

You'll get the hang of the river crossings. Most are pretty straightforward!

Lunch break on Angelus Circuit

We'll find a grassy knoll for a well-deserved lunch break before the elevation gain really ramps up!

Afternoon track features: a steep climb as we head into the alpine environment. Hike across boulders, tussock and scree up to Angelus Hut. Amazing views.

Surrounded by mountains on Angelus Circuit

Keep an eye out for the track markers as they line the way when the path gives way to tussock and streams.

Gaining elevation on the Angelus Circuit

As the views become more grand, the track steepens.

Beautiful river through forest

Your efforts are rewarded with plenty of gorgeous forest sections like this.

Drinking from waterfall on Angelus Circuit

We'll take a pit stop on the way up for a hot drink break, or an ice-cold one if you please!

Foot bridge crossing a gorge on the Angelus Circuit

Sometimes a gorge calls for a big, solid footbridge.

Steep tussock ascent on Angelus Circuit

You'll find tracks in creative places as you ascend the mountain.

Waterfalls in Nelson Lakes National Park

We're crossing some seriously beautiful terrain through here.

Ascending to Angelus Hut Nelson Lakes National Park

Here's the business end of our ascent, the part you've been waiting for - put both those poles to good use!

Scree slope on Angelus Circuit

The scree slope before Angelus Hut is a bit rough, but don't let it put you off conquering it.

Climbing through scree and tussock

This is the most physical part of the Kiwi Classic, but also the most rewarding.

Hiking around Lake Angelus

Two days away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation, and not a tourist for miles!

Angelus Hut: enjoy the view from the communal living area shared with other hikers exploring the area.

Dinner at Angelus Hut

Tuck into a well-deserved meal at Angelus Hut, and bask in views that are second-to-none.

On the deck at Angelus Hut

The hut is set on two alpine tarns with a purpose-built deck for viewing picturesque sunsets!

Bunks and sleeping bags with epic view

Backcountry sleeping with an epic view.

Day 3: Angelus to Roberts Ridge Carpark

Start the day climbing from the tarns to Roberts Ridge.
Track features: Some steep climbs and rugged descents in an alpine environment. Hike across boulders, tussock and scree, before descending into beech forest.

Lake Angelus in the morning

Wake up to this incredible sight!

Hiking out from Angelus Hut

Kickstart your morning ascent with more gorgeous views over the tarns.

Final view over the tarns

Catch a final glimpse of Angelus Hut behind you as you pop over the ridgeline.

Hike out the ridge: An alpine environment - hike across boulders, scree, tussocks. The track is uneven with some steep sections going up and down. Amazing views.

Descent on the Angelus Circuit

The scenery is nothing short of dramatic during the descent.

Views over roberts ridge

Follow the path through this rugged but beautiful terrain.

Rocky hike out on the Angelus Circuit

From here, you're looking down upon almost everything.

Hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park

Take your time and bask in the views!

Roberts Ridge Angelus Circuit

It's not too often you get to say your morning looks like this!

Following track markers on Angelus Circuit

There is a pretty clear path to follow through this terrain.

Robert's Ridge on the Angelus Circuit

Who's having fun? We're having fun!

Mountainous terrain on Angelus Circuit

You'll have plenty of opportunities to survey the mountains below from here.

Rocky terrain on Angelus Circuit

Good, strong boots and hiking poles will see you right through this terrain.

Mountain terrain along Roberts Ridge

Watch as the clouds and the mountain peaks interact!

Overlooking St Arnaud

Towering high over Lake Rotoiti and St Arnaud.

Final stretch: The last part of the hike out zig-zags down through beech forest to Roberts Ridge carpark.

Zigzag through beech forest

Finally, we return to the treeline and descend into lush beech forest.

Beautiful beech forest

Enjoy the shade of these mature beech trees during the final leg of this journey.

Making your Angelus Circuit journey a trip of a lifetime

This is our most physically challenging adventure, as you can see, but it's by no means impossible! With the right gear and knowledge of what's to come, you will be set and ready to conquer this mountain.

You can read about the rest of your Kiwi Classic adventure here, or refer to our fitness page for the facts and figures of each hike.