Lake Chalice is the only lake in the Mt. Richmond Forest Park and one of a handful of freshwater lakes in Marlborough. It formed 2000 years ago when a huge landslip from Old Man dammed the upper Goulter River. Evidence of this are the many stumps on the lake bottom and the fact that there is a native fish Galaxius brevipinnis endemic to the lake. There is no outlet to Lake Chalice so water drains through the landslip rubble into the lower Goulter River. The lake itself is about 2km long, and about 200m wide. Because of its location surrounded by steep mountains, the lake is cold even in summer, so is not suitable for swimming.
Fires in European times burnt some of the forest cover but most of the lake is fully forested in native beech forest.
Access to Lake Chalice is via the Northbank Road, off State Highway Six, a few kilometres north of Renwick. From the start of the Northbank road to Top Valley is a drive of approximately 40km, the last few kilometres on gravel road. Top Valley provides the most convenient access to Lake Chalice, as it is possible to drive up the Mount Patriarch road to a carpark a few kilometres above the lake. Unfortunately this road is frequently closed during working hours as a result of logging operations in the area. In dry weather, access is possible with a normal vehicle, but in wet weather, a four wheel drive is essential.
An alternative access route is via a walking track from the Goulter River. This is a considerably longer route, and is better suited for people with a good level of fitness and equipped to camp out overnight. At the head of the lake there is a hut where it is possible to stay, however you will need to purchase hut tickets from the Department of Conservation.
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