Angelus Hut & Relax Shelter

One of the best huts in a country home to over a thousand of them, staying at Angelus Hut is a highlight of any trip to Nelson Lakes National Park. I’ve now spent four nights there, in March 2016, twice in March 2020, and again on this three day trip in February 2021. One of the many attractions of Angelus Hut is that there five different routes to reach it – Robert Ridge Route, Speargrass Track, Mt Cedric Track, Cascade Track, and an unmarked route via Hopeless Hut and Sunset Saddle. When the weather is fine the Robert Ridge Route is hard to beat. From Mt Robert Car Park the steep but straightforward Pinchgut Track offered increasingly expansive views of Lake Rotoiti below.

Close to the Relax Shelter was a good spot for lunch with a view.

Further on, the buildings of the old Mt Robert Skifield could be seen below, dwarfed by the scale of the mountains.

From here the views get pretty epic, walking along through an incredible landscape with impressively large alpine moss plants.

There was unexpected activity above as a guider, and then para-glider, flew overhead.

Walking along the ridge line offered views on both sides, though no shelter from the weather, so this route is best done when the forecast is fine.

After nearly four hours walking post lunch Lake Angelus and Angelus Hut could finally be seen below. At 1,650m above sea level this is a stunning spot for the flash 28 bunk hut. For a change I camped rather than sleeping in the hut, which was much quieter than the full hut. There are half a dozen campsites roughly obvious between Lake Angelus and a couple of tarns.

Both the lake and tarns offered quite stunning reflections.

The tarns can also be swum in, though even in the middle of summer they were pretty fresh! It was absolute bliss taking a dip after a full day of hiking.

The colours improved as the sun started to set.

I spent much of the evening taking photos, enjoying the incredible light and serenity.

Just before sunset I got some particularly moody shots.

It was magical to wake to sunrise though the front of the tent.

Somehow the light was even better in the morning.

I wandered out toward the Hinepura Tarns and back, which I’d passed alongside last time I visited Angelus Hut.

After another glorious swim in the tarn and quick lunch I set off back along the Robert Ridge Route. It was another glorious day in the mountains, with blue skies and little wind.

I didn’t leave till 2.30pm though, it was hard to leave the Angelus basin, and after four hours reached Relax Shelter for much needed dinner. The plan had been to stay at Bushline Hut but it was too tempting, and there didn’t appear to be any restrictions, to spending the night at the shelter, sleeping on the floor. A short way further along the track I saw the last of the day’s light fall on Lake Rotoiti below.

The sunset views made up for the lack of most hut comforts, though had it water and a bench to sit on.

The sunrise was also pretty scenic.

It was a short descent back to the car park, followed by the third amazing swim of the trip, in the soothing waters of Lake Rotoiti.

Author: jontycrane

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