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Hiking Roy’s Peak is on the list of a lot of travelers coming to the South Island of New Zealand. It easily is one of the best day hikes you can do in the country. The Roy’s Peak Track is challenging, but the stunning view over Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains make it all worth while. The hike up to Roy’s Peak easily was one of my favorite activities during my travels through New Zealand with Stray and among my top hikes that I have done so far.
If you are planning to hike Roy’s Peak, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Here is a comprehensive guide for you on what you need to know before hiking Roy’s Peak:
Some general information
Length of the hike: total 16 km return (you go up and down via the same track)
Summit: at 1558 m, total change in elevation: 1228 m
Duration: 5-6 hours. Take it easy and make sure to take breaks. The track is easy and well maintained, however a good fitness level is required as the gradient is steep.
Seasonal restrictions: The track is closed from 1 October – 10 November each year.
In winter you will need to carry and be able to use alpine equipment in order to do the hike.
The hike starts at the Roy’s Peak Track Car Park on the Mount Aspiring Road 6km out of Wanaka. If you have your own car, make sure to start the hike early in the day as the car park fills up quickly- especially in the busy summer season. An alternative way to go is by a group taxi that will drop you at the beginning of the track and will pick you up again at a designated time. Check with your accommodation, if they will be able to arrange this for you. I payed 20 NZ$ return for the transportation.
What to bring
Bring a day pack so you can have your hands-free and make sure to pack enough water. You will need it as it is a very steep hike. Bring at least 1.5 l, maybe even more. Pack some snacks for energy. New Zealand’s sun is harsh, so sun protection such as sun screen, a hat and sunglasses are also an essential. Pack a basic first-aid kit in case something happens, also a phone in case you need to contact somebody. If you are hiking at night, so you can enjoy the sunrise from the peak, a head torch also comes in handy.
The view from above is incredible, so if you want take photos of course a take a camera or your phone.
What to wear
For a hike you obviously need to wear good shoes. Either hiking boots or for the Roy’s Peak Track trainers are also fine. Wear comfortable, loose clothes and layer up. It can get quite cold at the top and you will definitely sweat on the way up. You want to be able to take layers off and on again. Over my gym clothes, I was wearing a hoodie, as well as a jacket that shields from the wind. Even though we did the hike in the midst of summer, it was really cold at night and I was happy to have gloves and a warm hat.
My personal experience
When our Stray tour guide asked us on the way to Wanaka who was planning on doing the hike up to Roy’s Peak, almost everyone lifted there hand. It is no wonder since it really is one of the top things to do in Wanaka. I have seen beautiful pictures taken from the peak and couldn’t wait to take in the view with my own eyes. Since we only had one night in Wanaka, the only option for us was to take the hike before sunrise. We arranged transportation at the hostel and got everything ready for the next day. Our alarms were ringing at 2.30 am, the taxis arrived at 3 am.
The woman driving us from the town to the start of the Roy’s Peak Hike gave us some valuable recommendations. If you are doing the hike so early in the morning, it is important to wear warm clothes and have a lot layers on. However one important thing to note is that even though you are going to sweat on the way up, don’t take of your jacket as this will really cool of your body.
Once we arrived at the start of the hike, we formed a little support group. It definitely is more fun to do this hike with a group of people that have a similar fitness level as yourself. We made sure to frequently stop for water and snack breaks during the way up. As we were hiking during full moon, the track was lit up by moonlight and we could already get an idea what the view would look like from the top once it would get light. The way up was very challenging as the entire track is very steep and you only go uphill. Thanks to our fun hiking crew time passed quickly and we made it to the first lookout. To get all the way to the peak it was another half an hour. One of our concerns was not to make it in time for the sunrise as we were taking it slow, but we seemed to be able to make it on time. Motivated that the peak was now almost in sight, we continued. At the top there was already a small crowd awaiting the sunrise.
We made it to the top of Roy’s Peak! What a great feeling. We were so extremely proud that we pushed through and did it together as a group. The sun stared to rise slowly and dove the lake and the surrounding mountain range in a golden light. A sight to remember. We sat there for a while in awe and took it all in. As we were all getting pretty cold, we decided to get back down again to be in time for our pick up. I couldn’t help myself to take lots of pictures of the incredible view on the way down. I really wasn’t a hiker before, but since I really enjoyed this experience, I pleated to do some more hiking in the future. The way down was easier, but be aware that it is quite challenging for the knees. We made it down just in time to take the taxi back to Wanaka. In total the hike took us 6.5 hours with a break on top of the peak.
To sum it up
The Roy’s Peak hike was one of the best memories from this trip to New Zealand and even though it was very challenging and I was sore for days afterwards, I would do it again any day. The view is so magical and rewarding and we were just so proud afterwards that we managed to do it.