At the head of Lake Rotoroa, that other jewel of inland Nelson, are the Sabine and D’Urville Valleys. Surrounded by extensive beech forest, with great views of the major Travers Range summits, Lake Rotoroa is larger and even more stunning than Rotoiti. There is a camping ground and tourist lodge, but no general store like at St Arnaud. The lake was visited by William Fox, Thomas Brunner, Charles Heaphy and the Maori guide Kehu in February 1846. Stock were once run in the lower valleys and on Mt Misery, but the vegetation has regenerated well, due perhaps to the higher rainfall than in areas further east.
The easiest approach to climbing routes is to take the water taxi up Lake Rotoroa, avoiding a 5-6 hour lakeshore walk. Contact Craig Simpson, phone 03 523 9199. Alternatively, walk from Mt Robert car park to Speargrass Hut (12 bunks, serviced) and the track to Sabine Hut (32 bunks, serviced).
East Sabine River
At the Sabine Forks, take the track to the swingbridge over the gorge. Cross the bridge to follow the track to reach Gunsight Pass and Travers Saddle. From the bridge, the remnants of an old track follows the river on the true left for about 3 hours to a large grassy flat east-southeast of Mt Franklin. The large tarn which is the source of the East Sabine is further upriver, and can also be reached via Lake Tennyson and Clarence Pass. Good campsite 50m south-west of the tarn outlet.
West Sabine River
Blue Lake Hut (16 bunks, serviced) in the West Sabine is about 3 hours from Sabine Forks. In winter, large cones of avalanche debris can come off the slopes of the Mahanga Range and cross the track.