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Hiking Roys Peak from Wanaka has to be my favourite track in all of New Zealand’s incredible South Island. The views are truly INSANE, and so worth the ascent. It’s as beautiful as it is challenging!
- Elevation: 1228m
- Distance: 16km return
- Time: 4-6 hours, depending on breaks
Where is Roys Peak?
Roys Peak is located 6km down Mt Aspiring Road from Wanaka town on New Zealand’s South Island. It’s makes for the perfect Wanaka morning tramping, with its close proximity to town and beautiful views over the surrounding area. Wanaka itself is a fantastic stopover point on any journey between Queenstown and the glacier region of Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers.
When to visit Roys Peak
The main thing to note is that you must arrive at Roys Peak car park EARLY. It can even get filled up by the time the sun comes up, and there aren’t any other parking options particularly close by.
Hiking Roys Peak during:
Summer/Autumn: As long as you arrive for sunrise, you shouldn’t have any problems getting parked, or on the trail.
Winter: Always check weather conditions and tips with the local DOC office before ascending. If there is snow/ice on the trail, crampons are required as it the trail is fairly steep in some places. We visited in July, and although there was no snow, the ground was very frozen when we began climbing. Make sure to wear proper walking boots because as the earth thaws, it can become quite muddy and slippy.
Spring: Note that the track is closed for lambing season between 1stOctober to 10thNovember.
How challenging is hiking Roys Peak?
A fair level of fitness is required to enjoy it! Having said that, as long as you don’t suffer from any injuries, most people would manage the hike with no problems. Just take your time! The first hour or so is possibly the most challenging, as the track zig-zags up the mountain to get some height quite quickly.
Note: You don’t have to go right to the summit! If you can’t face the walk the whole way up, the views are still incredibly rewarding after just an hour of walking. Also, many people only walk as far as the Roys Peak Saddle, which is the main photo opportunity, approximately ¾ of the way to the summit. We’re pretty active, and we got to the saddle and back again in just over 4 hours. We saw a man literally running up and down, who probably finished it all within under two hours! Likewise, there were plenty of people who were clearly going to spend the whole day there – just go at your own pace.
What to take up Roys Peak
- Weather conditions can change quickly on any of the mountains in New Zealand’s South Island. You’ll find you get pretty warm on the ascent, and then pretty chilly when you hit winds at the top.
- Snacks and water – you’ll need it!
- There is a toilet at the car park, and one at the Saddle (3/4 of the way up).
Best photo spot on Roys Peak:
Without a doubt, this is by far the best place to get snap happy on Roys Peak. To be honest, it’s probably the most famous and iconic hiking photo spot in New Zealand. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a time when you’ve got the spot to yourself, but since everyone’s trying to obtain the same shot, they tend to pretty politely wait for each other!
Enjoy this beautiful trail!