A Guide to Hiking Roys Peak in New Zealand
Prior to visiting New Zealand, I did a lot of research on hikes because if there’s one thing I love it’s a picturesque view. I stumbled upon photos of the view from Roys Peak and knew immediately that I had to do it. Roys Peak is located on the south island of New Zealand in Wanaka, about an hour and a half north of Queenstown.
We were only planning on being in Wanaka for one day which meant we could only choose one hike. After reading about Roys Peak, my friend decided she did not want to do it. The entire hike is switchbacks going basically straight up the mountain, without any change of scenery or anything to break up the time it takes. That night we had dinner with a local friend and asked him about the difficulty and if it was worth it. He told us it is not that bad so I convinced her to get up before the sun to make the trek.
The truth of it? Amy was right! It is hard. When they say it takes 5-7 hours, they mean it. They don’t mean 5-7 hours if you are out of shape and slow - they mean 5-7 hours for everyone. I live in San Francisco so I do a ton of walking up very large hills, a lot of hiking, and have a decent amount of strength from doing circuit training and endurance from SoulCycle. Because of this I thought it would be no problem for me but I am happy to humbly admit it was much harder than I expected. It’s definitely possible, but just know it’s tough, extremely boring (sorry!), and really does take as long as they say.
Side note: I was also sick and could not breathe out of my nose at the time so that likely played a factor in it.
To get to the trailhead you will need to drive from Wanaka (or elsewhere). It is a short drive from town but would be a long walk on a highway so I do not recommend doing that. There is a parking lot located at the base on Mount Aspiring Road at 599/1131 Mount Aspiring Road where you can leave your car. You can also find it by typing “Roy’s Peak Parking” into Google Maps. The lot is small so you will want to get there early.
ABOUT THE HIKE
As I mentioned, the hike is a full day trek, taking between 5 and 7 hours. It is a steady uphill climb where you walk on a zigzag path back and forth for hours until you reach the top. If you are looking for an exciting adventure - this is not it. The (sole) reason to do this hike is for the view from the top, in my opinion.
For the duration of the entire hike you will be exposed to the sun. Because of this I recommend that you (1) leave before the sun rises to avoid being in direct sunlight for up to 7 hours, (2) wear SPF and reapply often, and (3) bring plenty of water with you. There is a hole in the ozone layer over New Zealand, allegedly, and the sun is extremely strong. Also pack some snacks in case you get hungry and make sure to pack a lunch.
There is a strong chance that during the hike you will deal with changing weather patterns, especially if you leave before sunrise, so make sure you bring the right attire. We made the trek in April and at the beginning it was chilly, in the middle we were very hot, and then once at the top we were cold once again as we were still in the sun but also caught in a lot of wind. I wore my Canada Goose Stellarton coat which was great because it packs down to almost nothing but still kept me extremely warm. Of course also make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
Once you arrive at the top, enjoy your packed lunch and take in the magnificent views! They really are out of this world and some of the best I have ever seen. And do not forget your camera!
WHAT I WORE