Angelus hut | Nelson Lakes National Park

A mention in Lonely Planet makes this a must do for international travellers of the semi-adventurous kind. And why not? A newish hut, insulated and cosy, perched on the edge of twin tarns at the top of a mountain with views over to Sunset Saddle and Mt Angelus. The hut is well worth the effort getting there and the crowds come, it’s one of the few requiring booking, instituted when 80 people turned up to share 28 bunks one stormy day.

What isn’t made clear by Lonely Planet is that it is quite the Mini Adventure to get up to the hut for those unused to New Zealand conditions. There are longish patches of moveable boulders to traverse in spots along Robert Ridge and the exposed nature of the hilltop trail means that it is often hit with the full weather and that can turn bleak in quite a hurry.

Angelus in winter/spring

Bear in mind that this is an exceedingly dangerous hut to access at times from mid-winter to mid-spring. Parts of the route are steep and extremely exposed to the ultra-changeable weather. The snow can be relatively slushy which makes travel ridiculously slow and energy consuming. Or icy. And did I mention dangerous? Please check with DOC about the conditions on the route in the off-season. They could tell you many stories about people getting into major difficulties. The cautions may sound over the top, but unless you are prepared, overtrou, ice axe, crampons, windproof gear, serious mountaineering boots, emergency locator beacon, plenty of time, it ain’t worth the risk. Take this advice from a local who has been there many times.

A sad note that one tramper, Chien Han Chee, died on 14 July 2018 on Robert Ridge on his way to Angelus Hut, despite good equipment. His story is sobering reading.

On 20 June 2019 another tramper, Tracey Smith, died in bleak winter conditions on Robert Ridge. Some other nearby trampers were rescued when they used their cell phone to call for rescue.

The Mountain Safety Council has made an excellent video of the summer conditions.

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category . . . serviced hut, with bookings required for part of the year

booking . . . bookings required late November to 30 April, visit the DOC booking site. If you do not book, ie, online or at a DOC office, and before you arrive at Angelus, you get hit with a substantial penalty payment from the hut warden who checks the bookings nightly.

hut fee . . . late November to 30 April | bunks: $20 adult, $10 youth, camping: $10 adult, $5 youth. Backcountry hut pass is not valid. 1 May to late November | 3 hut tickets or backcountry hut pass, 1 hut ticket to camp

elevation . . . 1650 m

bunks . . . 28 in two bunkrooms

built . . . 2010

heating . . . firebox

water . . . taps above interior sinks, tap above exterior sink on verandah, from rainwater tank

toilet . . . 4 composting toilets

Blue Lake Hut | Nelson Lakes National Park →