Filled with forested valleys, glacial lakes and the beauty of the Southern Alps, Nelson Lakes National Park is a stunning parkland that’s a haven for outdoor adventure and exploration. Both Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti are found within the park and offer everything from family lake tramping to water sports. You’ll also find fun family-friendly attractions in the village of St Arnaud, a historic village that serves as a base camp to explore the park. Find out more about the activities and adventures you can have in Nelson Lakes National Park, and explore the options for accommodation for you and your family or friends.

Activities in Nelson Lakes National Park

From wildlife sightings to skiing, snowboarding and wilderness hikes, Nelson Lakes National Park has a range of activities for a memorable trip. Take a look at some of the best activities in the park and plan your itinerary.

Skiing and snowboarding

Few places in the world offer skiing and snowboarding with views over turquoise lakes, dense forests and picturesque alpine valleys. Rainbow Ski Field, a ski resort in Nelson Lakes National Park, offers incredible skiing and snowboarding on a rugged mountain chain. You’ll find options for all abilities and ages, as well as other winter activities like tobogganing and ice skating. In warmer months, the ski field is open for hiking and mountain biking.

Hiking and mountain biking

You’ll find extensive hiking and mountain biking trails in Nelson Lakes National Park that offer scenic beauty and natural landmarks. The park has several multi-day trails for long-distance hikers and bikers to travel through alpine landscapes and camp overnight under the stars. You’ll find plenty of shorter hikes as well, including tramping around lakeside trails. If you want to experience the true wilderness in the park, venture into the backcountry to see the ethereal Blue Lake, or Lake Rotomairewhenua. If you want more adventurous mountain biking, head to the Teetotal Recreation Area to find challenging trails through matagouri scrub and grasslands with banked turns and steep descents.

Family activities

One of the best things to do with the kids is tour the Tophouse Inn, a historic hub in St Arnaud that's a resting spot for weary travellers. When you visit the inn, you can tour the rooms and hear incredible stories of love, heartbreak and betrayal that took place there. There’s also a rumour about a friendly ghost who haunts the property. Nelson Lakes National Park also has easy lakeside tracks that are perfect for little legs and include all the beauty and wildlife of the more strenuous hiking areas. The Bellbird and Honeydew Walks are family favourites due to the abundance of wildlife you’ll encounter along the way.

Accommodation in Nelson Lakes National Park

From massive lodges for multiple families to charming studio hotels, you’ll find it all in Nelson Lakes National Park. Take a look at the options for accommodation in Nelson Lakes National Park to see what you can expect.


Hotels in Nelson Lakes National Park offer studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units for solo travellers, couples and families. You’ll have all the space you need for the whole family with an en suite bathroom and practical amenities like a kitchen, entertainment systems and a garden area for the kids to play. You’ll also find luxury hotels in the area that offer extravagant services such as on-site spas and pools, fitness centres and room service.

Family cottages

Nelson Lakes National Park has numerous historic family cottages that offer space, comfort and scenery for your trip. Cottages include multiple bedrooms, lounge areas, bathrooms, full kitchens with appliances and a garden and lawn area with a picnic table. Depending on the cottage you choose, you may also be treated to resort-like services and on-site amenities such as a community pool.


If you want a big space for a group or large family, lodges are a great option. You’ll find lodges around Nelson Lakes National Park that offer large kitchens with appliances, dining rooms, multiple bathrooms and bedrooms, lounges and entertainment systems. When you have so much space, everyone can have their own room and find alone time to relax or read. Group lodges are the perfect choice for family reunions and other holidays with large groups.