Angelus Hut via Speargrass Track and Speargrass Creek Route
Located in Nelson Lakes National Park in the Nelson/Tasman region
IntroductionThis route is often used to exit Rotomaninitua/Lake Angelus in bad weather. There are unbridged stream crossings, and muddy sections.
11.2 km one way
May to October:
- Additional hazards on all routes to Angelus Hut including snow, ice, avalanche risk and sub-zero temperatures.
- Hut facilities reduced – water and firewood may not be available at the hut.
Bookings are required for Angelus Hut all year round.
From the Mt Robert car park follow Speargrass Track to the Speargrass Creek Route junction approximately 5 min before Speargrass Hut. From the car park to the track junction takes approximately 2 hr 30 min.
From the track junction it is a poled route with many unbridged stream crossings up Te Horowai/Speargrass Creek – it intersects with the Mt Robert Ridge Route 10 minutes short of the view overlooking the Angelus basin. Follow the poles to the lake and hut. Expect muddy sections below the bush edge.
This way is often used in bad weather.
You can turn this into a loop by returning to the Mt Robert carpark on the Angelus Hut via Pinchgut Track and Robert Ridge Route.
From St Arnaud, follow SH 63 west for 2 km, then turn into Mount Robert Road. Follow this for 4.9 km to the car park at the end.
St Arnaud is 88 km from Nelson on SH6, 129 km from Picton on SH63, 157 km from Wesport on SH6 and SH63, and 350 km from Christchurh on SH65 and SH6.
- The gate at the bottom of Mount Robert Road is locked when the road is icy.
Angelus Hut tracks and routes November to April
What to take
Pack a range of equipment for warm, cold, windy or wet conditions.
Overnight and multi-day tramp gear list.
Take a day’s spare food in case of delay due to weather conditions.
Hospitable and welcoming on a fine day, the Angelus basin and the alpine access routes are prone to sudden weather changes bringing freezing winds and snow at any time of the year.
Even small streams are dangerous in flood. Winter conditions or bad weather could slow or stop your progress to or from the hut. A fall onto hard or icy snow could be lethal. Snow avalanches are possible.
Sandflies and wasps
Sandflies are tiny black insects that cause itchy bites. Cover up and use insect repellent.
There are many wasps in the area, especially from January to April. Consider carrying an antihistamine product and, if you are allergic to stings, ensure you bring your medication.
Giardia has not been found in waters along the track but its presence cannot be dismissed. To avoid giardia, water should be boiled, chemically treated or filtered.
Angelus Hut tracks and routes May to October
You need special skills and preparation and excellent fitness to complete the route to Angelus Hut in winter (May to October). There are increased risks from snow, ice, avalanche terrain and sub-zero temperatures. The trip to the hut can take up to 9 hours with limited daylight.
Track standard: Tramping Track, Route
Track surface: Track is covered in snow and is very icy in sections above the bushline.
Suitable for: People with alpine skills, equipment and experience. You must:
- know how to navigate if cloud or snow covers the marker poles and you cannot see them
- know where avalanches are a risk and be able to rescue someone if an avalanche occurs
- have the equipment and skills to prevent a slide on icy terrain
- have the clothing for sub-zero temperatures and be able to survive if the weather gets worse
- be prepared to spend a night in the open or turn back early if your progress is too slow.
Prepare for a challenging tramp
Allow up to 9 hours in heavy snow conditions to complete the Robert Ridge Route or Travers-Cascade Route via Lakehead Hut or Coldwater Hut, and up to 9 hours on the Mt Cedric Track via Sabine Hut.
There are between 9 and 11 hours of daylight in winter, so leave early enough to complete the trip before it gets dark. Always take a head torch.
The snow depth will increase and weather conditions may worsen as you get deeper into the mountains. Be prepared to turn back early if conditions are no longer safe or your progress is too slow.
In whiteout conditions, the tracks can be extremely difficult to find.
Dress for cold, windy and icy conditions
On a calm day, Angelus Hut (1650 m) is at least 6oC colder than at the Rotoiti/Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre. Subtract another 2oC (35.6oF) for every 10 km/h of wind. Subtract another 6.5oC (43.7oF) for every 1,000 m ascent.
The routes to Angelus Hut are at altitude in an alpine environment. The weather can be highly changebale - within minutes, the weather can go from clear skies to whiteout conditions. The cold can be intense. Hypothermia is a real risk and can be fatal – recognise the symptoms. People may shiver, be clumsy, confused, have slurred speech, and deny they have a problem).
Layer your clothes to trap warm air in and keep cold wind out. Start with a base layer of polypropylene/merino, add an insulation layer of fleece/wool and finish with a waterproof shell layer.
Expect ice on the track from May to December. Crampons and an ice axe are essential, as is the competency using them. 38% of tramping injuries are from slipping.
Be avalanche alert
Avalanches are a hazard. All tracks/routes to Angelus Hut during winter are subject to avalanches. Carefully consider the the class of avalanche terrain you're getting into:
Avalanches occur in the park every year normally between June and October but sometimes as late as December. Even if you can't see snow from the track, there may be enough out of sight on the upper slopes to form an avalanche that could reach the track.
What to take
Overnight and multi-day tramping gear list
And takes these essentials:
- Plenty of drinking water - there is no drinking water along Robert Ridge Route.
- Gas cooker, fire starter, utensils, sleeping bag, and toilet paper for Angelus Hut.
- Waterproof jacket and pants, hat, gloves, sunscreen, and warm, layered clothing.
- Sturdy tramping or mountaineering boots.
- Crampons and ice axe.
- Avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe and snow shovel.
- Personal locator beacon (PLB), head torch and spare batteries – there is very limited mobile reception on the route, and only on Robert Ridge.
- Map, compass and/or GPS.
Make a plan
Talk with someone at the Rotoiti/Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre who knows the current conditions.
Check the latest:
Know the route – deep snow and whiteout conditions can hide track markers.
About the hut in winter
- You may have to dig your way into the hut. Snow drifts frequently block the entrance.
- There is no water inside the hut. Plumbing is disconnected to avoid freezing and cracking of pipes.
- The hut may be cold. Firewood may not be available.
Poles covered in snow
Rotomaninitua/Lake Angelus and hut in winter
Stay safe in the outdoors
- Take the right gear for your trip: Walking and tramping gear lists.
- Tell a trusted person your plans and when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. Send them the information directly, or use the Outdoor Intentions form or Plan My Walk.
- Follow the five essential steps of the Land Safety Code.
|Rotoiti / Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre|
|Phone:||+64 3 521 1806|
PO Box 55
St Arnaud 7053
|Full office details|
|Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre|
|Phone:||+64 3 546 9339|
|Fax:||+64 4 471 1117|
Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Private Bag 5
|Full office details|