Find out what you need to take when you walk the track and other safety information.

Prepare for your trip

It’s important to plan, prepare and equip yourself well. Make sure your party has a capable leader and that you have plenty of food, warm and waterproof clothing, the right skills and fitness level required for the trip. Always check the latest information about facilities, tracks and local weather conditions.

Trampers on Robert Ridge route.
Trampers on Robert Ridge route

Essential gear:

  • waterproof raincoat and over-trousers
  • several layers warm clothing
  • spare dry socks
  • strong tramping boots
  • food (enough for the duration plus extra for emergencies)
  • first aid kit
  • sunscreen and sunglasses
  • hat & gloves
  • sleeping bag
  • portable fuel stove & cooking utensils
  • hut tickets or annual hut pass
  • map and compass (and know how to use them!)

Consider carrying:

  • putties (gaiters)
  • personal locator beacon/or mountain radio
  • tent and bed roll in the summer monthsDuring winter and snow conditions you will need an ice axe and crampons, snow gaiters and goggles. You might want to consider carrying an avalanche transceiver, probe and snow shovel.

Freezing conditions and/or heavy rain can occur at any time of year. If you doubt your abilities or the weather, particularly near Travers Saddle or at un-bridged stream crossings after heavy rain, turn back. Fill in the visitor book if you are staying in a hut or at a campsite.

In winter, navigation and alpine skills are essential for your survival. For more information about these visit

It is strongly recommended that you take a personal locator beacon with you. A mountain radio is an optional extra that can be taken for communication.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Your safety and the decisions you make while on the track are your responsibility. Know the outdoor safety code. Check out 

Snow and avalanches

The Nelson Lakes National park contains a large amount of avalanche terrain. There are numerous avalanche paths, which may bring avalanche debris to the valley floor– their start zones cannot be seen from the track. There are a number of relatively easily accessible areas that contain challenging avalanche terrain while seasonal snow is present. There are some significant areas of complex terrain.

All visitors should consider carefully the class of avalanche terrain they are getting into and check the avalanche danger advisory prior to undertaking any trip.

If you are going into places avalanches could occur, be sure you:

  • Have checked the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory (NZAA) and the Avalanche Terrain Exposure scale system (ATES) for the area where you want to go.
  • Have the skills for the ATES class you are going into.
  • Have checked what avalanche advisory and alert information is available from the DOC visitor centre nearest the area where you want to go.
  • Take an avalanche transceiver, a snow shovel and a probe. Know how to use these tools!

German wasp found at Nelson Lakes.
German wasp found at Nelson Lakes


There are high numbers of wasps particularly between January and April. Consider carrying an antihistamine product and if you are allergic to their stings ensure you take your medication.


Sandflies are tiny black insects which cause itchy bites. Cover up and use insect repellent.

Water quality

Water supplies are generally of a high quality but cannot be guaranteed. You may choose to boil, filter or treat drinking water. Use toilet facilities and help keep water supplies clean.

Nelson Lakes - thefts from vehicles

Isolated carparks are prone to theft. Don't leave any valuables in your vehicle. A bag storage facility is available at the Rotoiti/Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre. 

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