St Arnaud (Nelson Lakes National Park)
Just before Christmas, we rolled into Nelson Lakes area - staying at Teetotal Campground, a DOC area. We had to stay here because it was the only dog-friendly place for Ridge - unfortunately, he's not allowed in the National Parks.
St Arnaud is a quaint little place, you can really tell it's an alpine snow-seeker haven for winter time; and for summer time, it's humming with mountain bikers and tourist hikers. There's not much there - a little general store, a cafe, a couple motels/accommodation places, but TONS of campers (kiwi and tourists) at the camp sites around the lake.
Hubby took to the 1900m high hills as soon as the weather cleared, spending the entire day from before the crack of dawn, until late that night walking to the top of Mt Robert. He was looking for any deer or chamois, but found 100% tourist hikers instead.
With a network of mountain bike trails literally on our 'doorstep' at Teetotal camp, we were able to run Ridge, explore the multiple graded tracks (there's even an ice-skating pond for winter!) and did some testing/puppy training at the rifle range.
I'd recommend this place, pack some sandfly repellant, bring your bike and don't eat grainy bread sandwiches outside because when the sandflies land on your food, they look the same as the seeds in the bread...
The only thing to note is that it's a paid DOC campsite - only $8/night and covered by your DOC membership pass if you have one - but the copious amounts of tourists that arrive at 10-11pm after the ranger has done a night check, and leave by 7am before the next ranger check is not that great. Nor when they arrive at 10.30pm in the dark, light up your caravan with their headlights and still block you in, not thinking to check how you might get out without reversing into their little "self contained" van on your way out at 7.30 the next morning.