If you haven’t heard of Roy’s Peak, you’ve probably seen it. The viewpoint from this famous hike is practically the postcard picture for travel in New Zealand and for good reason too! But as beautiful as the view and hike is, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a steep 3 hour trek (for most) to the top, and when I say steep, I mean steep. It was entirely uphill, entirely without shade, zero exceptions. Most say it’s more strenuous than the other famous New Zealand hike, the Tongariro Crossing, and I’m inclined to agree. The effort is definitely worth it, but just make sure you’re prepared beforehand with my tips below on hiking Roy’s Peak.
TOP TIPS FOR HIKING ROY’S PEAK
But first: if I’ve already scared you off with the mere thought of a 3 hour one-way, all uphill hike, check out Wanaka’s easier, less known-about hike, Mount Iron. It still affords great views over Lake Wanaka and a good work out, but is much shorter and less steep.
1. Do Not Walk to the Trailhead (Catch a Ride Instead)
The trail begins about 75 minutes’ walk from central Wanaka, and trust me, you do not want to add another 2.5 hours of walking to the trailhead and back on top of this already-tiring, 5 – 6 hour hike.
If you have your own car, you’re set. Just head over and park in the lot at the start of the trail (map below). If you don’t, try to meet people in your accommodation who are doing the hike and have a spare seat (it is the main “thing to do” in Wanaka, after all). There’s also always hitchhiking, but I personally opted to book the shuttle from my hostel. They booked us a Yello! cab ride for NZ$10 a piece, but Yello! is a company you can also call privately and book on your own.
2. Consider Hiking at Sunrise
I definitely did not do this, but if you’re itching to do a sunrise hike while in New Zealand, this is the one! Roy’s Peak is a very popular hike to do at sunrise, so while you will have to hike up in the dark, at least you won’t have to hike up alone in the dark. If you choose to do this, be sure to have necessary equipment, like a headlamp.
3. Use Hiking Poles if You Can
As this hike is very steep, it’s a tough one on the knees, especially on the way down. My right knee was a little sensitive for over a week afterwards! Especially if you already have knee problems, and even if you don’t, consider bringing along hiking poles to alleviate some of the pressure off your knees.
4. Bring Enough Water (Seriously)
I hate using hole-in-the-ground toilets on hikes, so I try to hydrate the evening and morning before a hike and to sip sparingly while on the hike if I can. It worked well for the infamous Tongariro Crossing hike, where I surprisingly didn’t even need to finish what water I brought. But while hiking Roy’s Peak, that all went out the window. I was chugging all the way up, and I had to ration to save enough for my lunch at the peak.
5. Bring a Cap & Sunglasses
As I’ve mentioned a couple times now, this hike has zero – and I mean zero – shade. So dress accordingly. Bring a cap or visor, wear a pair of sunnies, and reapply sunscreen every few hours. The sun in New Zealand is particularly strong.
6. Dress in Layers
While there may be zero shade on the way up, once you get to the top, it can be a bit chilly. So, as is the case with pretty much every hike in New Zealand, bring layers. I was sweating like a pig on the entire way up, immediately threw on all my layers once at the top, and started shedding all the layers off as I made my way back down!
7. Pack a Meal & Snacks
It goes without saying that on a 6 hour hike, you’ll definitely need to eat. There are two nice spots to choose from for your lunch break; the famous viewpoint, and the peak, which is actually 30 minutes past the famous viewpoint. The peak was a lot chillier and windier than the viewpoint on the day I did this hike, so keep that in mind as you decide where to sit down and refuel!
WHAT SAY YOU?
Well, there you have it, folks – my tips on hiking Roy’s Peak in Wanaka, New Zealand! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions on completing this hike. And if you’ve hiked Roy’s Peak yourself, please share any tips you think I’ve missed!