Tramping - Robert Ridge and Angelus Hut

Introduction

Angelus Hut is perched high on the Travers Range between Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa in Nelson Lakes National Park. Situated on the edge of a small alpine tarn, Lake Rotomaninitua/Lake Angelus, it is one of the most popular huts in the park, with approximately 3,600 overnight visitors per year.

There are several ways a tramper can reach the hut. The most iconic route is via Pinchgut Track and Robert Ridge. Other alternatives include following Speargrass Track and Speargrass Creek Route, which provides the shelter of the bush for much of the journey, and Cascade Track which climbs steeply from the Travers Valley on the Eastern side. Some walkers choose to complete a circuit involving different tracks either side of a night at Angelus Hut.

The Mountain Safety Council (MSC) has identified access to Angelus Hut, most notably via Robert Ridge as being one of the most dangerous locations for tramping incidents.

Over a period of nine years (2010 – 2019) there have been 45 people involved in Search and Rescues (SAR) and 2 fatalities (2018 and 2019). This presents an incident rate of approximately 1 in 700 trampers requiring SAR assistance.

As a result, MSC, DOC and NZ Police are forming an Issue Specific Advisory Group which will be tasked with an in-depth exploration of the insights available in order to develop and propose a number of prevention solutions which will improve the safety of trampers heading to Angelus Hut.

DOC supports the MSC establishing an Issue Specific Advisory Group focussed on the Robert Ridge/Angelus Hut area. We’re looking forward to working together to implement solutions that will improve visitor safety within our wonderful National Park.
– John Wotherspoon, DOC Operations Manager, Rotoiti / Nelson Lakes District
The Robert Ridge Route is frequently underestimated by trampers and we can clearly see through the insights MSC has developed that it has more preventable safety incidents than other popular tracks in the same area. It is a beautiful trip and it is easily accessible, so that makes it a very attractive option, but it is also very exposed. People do underestimate it; it is an alpine track and even in summer you can get snow. Tasman Police are excited to support this prevention focused approach.
– Sergeant Malcom York, NZ Police, Tasman District

Purpose 

This Terms of Reference formally establishes an Issue Specific Advisory Group which will focus on solving the safety issues relating to tramping to and from Angelus Hut, particularly along the Robert Ridge Route.

The purpose of the advisory group is to:

  • utilise insights to identify what is causing people to experience safety issues, and
  • use the knowledge and expertise of those in the group to develop specific targeted interventions that aim to reduce the number of safety incidents.

Broadly speaking, the aim of this process is to achieve a reduction in the rate of people requiring SAR, experiencing harm through sustaining injuries, or never returning home from their adventure. Specific success measures will be defined for each intervention prior to implementation.

Scope of the Advisory Group 

The advisory group will only focus on safety issues relating to recreational tramping to and from Angelus Hut. It will not explore topics related to site congestion and visitor numbers, site access (such as parking and transport), infrastructure, toileting, environmental leave no trace themes or cultural topics, unless these are directly relevant to safety issues. 

The MSC, with the support of DOC, will manage the process and facilitate the advisory group. The MSC will collaborate with DOC to narrow in on the most appropriate interventions/solutions and ensure that they are realistic and appropriate.

Upon completion of the advisory group process, the group will be disbanded. However, the MSC may choose to reconvene the group later to assess the interventions against the pre-defined success measures. This process may include a review of the interventions to determine their effectiveness and could result in either a continuation, an update or adjustment, an increased rollout or ceasing of interventions.

It is not the role of the advisory group to implement any suggested initiatives, however individuals within the group may play a role in implementing them because of other affiliations or organisations they work for.

Supporting evidence/Insights  

Further insights will be prepared for the advisory group for their use during this process. This may include other evidence or research available through third-party sources and supplied by the MSC. In the meantime, interested parties are encouraged to read A Walk in the Park? available from the MSC website.   

Read A Walk in the Park?

For more information please contact Bevan Smith, Partnerships Advisor 

View Terms Of Reference