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The thing I wanted to do most on our trip to NZ was the walk up Roy’s Peak.

However, I also heard it was a really tough walk (some people even told me it was the hardest hike they ever did!) so it totally got me nervous at the lead up to it. I had major expectations about how difficult it was going to be that in the end, it actually ended up being ok! By ok, I mean achievable for the average person. It’s just that it was so long and so steep that it makes for a really tiring day.

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Getting there

Roy’s Peak is about a 10 min drive from Wanaka. The carpark can be seen from the road so you just turn off the road when you see it.

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Quick Stats 

Distance: 16km return

Elevation: 1578m

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About the Hike

The hike starts off as a steep uphill climb. Towards the middle, it flattens out a bit to a low uphill incline. As you near the photographic viewpoint, it starts to get steep again. From the photographic viewpoint to the top,  the paths are similar ranging from areas of steep incline to moderate incline. Along the entire way though, the path is really just a wide dirt footpath meaning that it is actually really quite accessible and easy to do. There’s nothing dangerous about it in that kind of way. It’s just the incline and the length of it that makes it difficult. I’d recommend wearing comfortable runners or hiking shoes at a minimum. You won’t want to wear anything else because your shoes will ruin and your feet will kill for sure!

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The two viewpoints

There are two main spots people stop at when hiking Mount Roy. The first is the highly Instagrammed ‘Roy’s Peak’ picture where you can see the islands scattered in the background with a small path leading towards this peak. This isn’t actually Roy’s Peak, but I’d admit it’s probably the nicest view out of all the views you get, photographically wise. Most people, at this point, will stop, appreciate the view and turn back down.

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This is the photographic view point – it’s not Roy’s actual Peak

However, the real Roy’s Peak is actually another one hour up and if you’re one to get a major case of FOMO, I’d highly recommend continuing on, since you’ve already come so far and probably will never do the hike again. The track up to Roy’s (actual) Peak winds behind the mountain before heading upwards so you can get a great view of Mt Aspiring and the valley behind. It’s a different kind of view – more one to appreciate with the eyes, but it is just as beautiful.

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This is the view from Roy’s actual Peak – the top of the mountain

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How long we took

With me in tow, I’d say we were on the slow side for people our age. I’m certain there are heaps of people more fit than me haha. For us, it took 2 hr 15 min to get to the photographic lookout point (not the real Roy’s Peak, but the place most people on Instagram call Roy’s Peak). We spent 1 hr 30 min here eating, taking pics, resting. Then, it took another 1 hr to get to Roy’s actual Peak. We spent 45 min up the top eating food and enjoying the view.

Going down, it took us 40 min to get back to the photographic lookout point and then 2 hr 15 min (same time it took to get up) to get to the bottom. Going down was super killer on our feet because it was really steep and our feet started hurting heaps in our shoes.

Total time up: 3 hr 15 min. Total time down: 2 hr 55 min.

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Other tips 

  • Bring sunscreen, layers, etc because the entire path is exposed so you’ll have to deal with the weather whatever it is. There’s not a single tree that’s going to offer you wind protection or shade. So it can get pretty cold when you’re up the top so make sure you bring layers. Also, bring plenty of water and pee before you go because there aren’t any toilets on Mount Roy. There’s only one at the carpark but I’m not sure the condition. I’d bring more water than I planned to drink and just water the grass if I didn’t need to carry the load anymore (NZ, hope that’s ok!).
  • This walk is on private property and is closed from 1 Oct to 10 Nov every year.
  • We did this hike in Feb 2018, in summer. Conditions will be different in other seasons so be sure to research that before you go.
  • We started our hike at 4am for sunrise. If you plan to do that, make sure you bring head torches as it’s pitch black otherwise.
  • The track is closed for lambing from Oct 1 to Nov 10 every year.

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