If you’re headed to Wanaka or New Zealand in general, hiking Roy’s Peak is probably on your list of things to do! After climbing the mountain myself, I’d say I gathered some helpful information for those preparing to do the hike. Find all the nitty gritty details and whether it was worth the hype of not below!
How to get there
Getting from Wanka’s city centre to the Roy’s Peak carpark is too easy. Just hop in a cab/drive 5-10 minutes or you can extend your exercise for the day by walking about an hour there.
How long will it take?
This day hike is said to typically take between 5 and 7 hours. From memory it took roughly 6.5 hours when I did it, starting around 4pm and ending the hike at 10:30pm. We stopped at the top to take pictures during sunset and enjoy the view for roughly an hour so it can definitely be done at a faster rate if you’d like!
Once you get to the picturesque viewpoint that probably inspired you to do this hike in the first place, know that the hike is not over! Sure you can stop there and get some great pics but you might as well finish the entire trek while you’re up there. The rest of the hike to the very top will take about 45 minutes.
What to wear/bring with you
Deciding on what to wear was difficult for myself personally, as it was a warm day when I started the hike but I knew it would be much cooler at the top. My solution: LAYERS!
I wore a sports bra with a tshirt overtop, a hat, leggings and then in my bag brought along a sweater and a windbreaker. I found my trusty Nike running shoes to be just fine for the hike but my feet were definitely sore by the end.
You’ll want to bring some snacks as well as plenty of water along for the ride. I brought hummus with some crackers and veggies, granola bars, fruit and a sandwich to last me the day!
- Flashlight – For the walk up for down in the dark depending on the time you go.
- Charger – You’ll want full phone charge for pictures or to play music along the way!
- Camera – Not necessarily needed if you have a phone but I found the pictures on my camera turned out 100000 times better.
- Toilet paper – There are toilets at the viewpoint but they don’t provide the paper!
- Hand sanitizer – See above ^
Timing is everything
Before you start trekking this track, decide whether you want to be there for sunrise or sunset. This is for a couple of reasons, mostly being because if you go around 8/9am or during the day, you’ll be with big crowds of people which can ruin the magic a little in my opinion and it will be very warm and make the hike less tolerable.
If hiking Roy’s Peak is at the top of your list when you visit New Zealand, keep in mind that the time of year you choose to go is important. The track is closed between October and November every year for lambing. If you’re like me and also despise winter, I’d also recommend doing the hike during their summer months (December – March). These months are typically the warmest but it still gets quite cold at the top of the mountain even mid-summer!
Level of difficulty
How difficult the hike is will vary greatly depending on your level of fitness and how often you hike. With that being said, while I like to think that I’m pretty fit, it was no walk in the park. I don’t do too much cardio on a regular basis besides 10-15 minutes of incline walking on a treadmill or the stair master at the gym 4 times a week.
Pro tip: If you want to be as prepared as you can be for this hike, I’d recommend increasing your cardio with the methods I used above!
The walk up is quite steep yet steady and on an incline, so you’d imagine the walk down to be much easier as it’s the same route. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I probably found the return to be more treacherous because it’s hard on your knees. I ended up jogging/running/jumping part of the downhill to make it a little easier. The one good thing that can be said is that the track is pretty flat and you get a good grip in basic shoes!
What you’ll see
I won’t lie to you … the entire walk up is stunning if you go during daylight hours. You’ll have a view of Lake Wanaka for the majority of the climb up and you’ll most definitely run into a few hundred sheep along the way!
From the very top of Roy’s Peak (not just the viewpoint) you won’t any scenery that’s too different. If you’re running tight on time you can skip over that last part and just get some good pics at the viewpoint. I found the time I went to be perfect because people were heading back down so they didn’t have to do the walk in the dark. This meant no wait time to get some awesome pics at the viewpoint with no one else in them!
If you choose to go for sunset, the walk down will be in the dark so you won’t see much other than the glowing eyes of the many sheep still awake! Just be sure to have your flashlight handy so you don’t trip on the steady decline.
Concluding thoughts: Was it worth it?
After a few hours of an intense uphill climb with my head in the clouds, I would say that hiking Roy’s Peak is 100% worth it! While the journey both up and down can be quite monotonous, you can use the time to get to know new friends, jam out to some music or just take in being outside and surrounded by nature. Another bonus is that this hike is free with a donation box at the start to upkeep the track. Something a budget traveller like myself is always pleased about!
If you have any more questions about this hike or New Zealand in general, feel free to reach out. You can also hit me up on Instagram for more travel inspo and budget travel hacks!