Guides

Everything You Need To Know About Scaling Roy’s Peak

A little planning can turn a difficult climb into an exciting challenge.

If you’ve seen snaps of happy folk perched high in the mountains at Roy’s Peak, you can bet they worked hard to get there.

Hiking Roy’s Peak is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a steep five-hour round-trip. Minimum. Don’t let that put you off, though. With a little planning, this hike can turn a difficult climb into an exciting challenge. And the view from the top is so worth it.

Here are the ways to prep for this trek to make it a joy.

Time

Prepare for at least a five-to-six-hour, 16km round trip to the peak. More if you want to spend time at the peak or make the most of the many photo ops along the way. The route up is the same as the route down.

On the way up, the climb can be tough thanks to the mountain’s height. About 30 minutes before the summit, you’ll reach the famous photo spot. It’s a welcome break with absolutely amazing views over to Rob Roy Glacier and Lake Wanaka.

But don’t be fooled, it’s still another 30 minutes or so to the actual peak.

When the steep climb gets a bit much, try zig-zagging. Two steps left and a little up, and then two steps right and a little up is a proven trekking tactic to help you tackle steep terrain.

Time Of Day

Roy's Peak, Wanaka, New Zealand

Image: Alexandra Longstaff

New Zealand is hotter than you might imagine, especially if you trek Roy’s Peak between December to March. Wanaka’s hottest time of day is in the late afternoon, at about 4pm, so it’s recommended that you get up early and knock the trek over in the morning.

Time Of Year

The track is closed every year between October 1 and November 10 for lambing. In winter, you need to be a pretty experienced hiker and will need to carry — and be able to use — an ice axe and crampons.

Climbing at this time of year is particularly risky due to avalanches, so we recommend saving the experience for the warmer months.

Dressing Appropriately

Roy's Peak, Wanaka, New Zealand

Image: Alexandra Longstaff

Warm clothes are important, even in summer. Roy’s Peak is 1578m to the summit, so while you might be sweating buckets at the bottom, by the time you get to the top, it could be quite cool. Prepare accordingly and bring layers you can strip off and a rain jacket.

That said, if the weather is hot, you will be in direct sunlight for the full trek. Bring a hat and wear sunscreen.

Also, the right footwear is key: walking shoes or a well-worn-in pair of hiking boots are best for avoiding blisters.

Fueling Up

Roy’s Peak is a steep climb and, on a hot day, you will sweat, so pack more water than you think you need and drink it regularly. Food for energy is important, too, so make the most of a nice packed lunch at the summit.

How To Get There

The track is about a 10-minute drive from Wanaka. There’s a free parking lot at the base of Roy’s Peak at 599/1131 Mount Aspiring Road, where you can leave your car. Get there earlish as the lot fills up fast on busy days.

The base of the mountain is private land but, as you get higher, it becomes public property meaning it’s fair camping game. If you fancy carrying your gear to the top, make a night of it and wake to those views in the morning. Bliss.

  • Fly into Queenstown Airport
  • Drive 73km (about an hour) via Crown Range Road and Cardrona Valley Road
  • Roy’s Peak, Wanaka

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(Lead image: Jingwei Ke)