Julie New Zealand 26 Comments

Time to go hiking again!  This time we are in Wanaka, New Zealand, a gorgeous area with lakes framed by beautiful mountains.  It is autumn, a terrific time to be in New Zealand.  The trees are changing color, temperatures are cool but not too cold, and it is low season for tourists. Climbing up a mountainside for unbeatable views makes for a fun day for us and the views from Roy’s Peak were something that Tim and I really wanted to see.

Roys Peak with KidsOn the morning of our hike, thick, low level clouds hung over the town of Wanaka. We had just this one day for the hike so we were hoping conditions would clear as the day went on. With backpacks loaded with water, Subway subs, and snacks, we started on our way.

The hike up to Roy’s Peak is a steady, monotonous uphill climb.  I would describe it as strenuous, as the uphill gradient is unrelenting. Also, there is nothing technical about the climb. There are no rock scrambles, no steep, slippery pathways, no rope assisted climbs. Just a steady slog up the hill.

The total climb to Roy’s Peak is 1300 meters, a fairly hefty climb to the top. Tyler and Kara had no problem completing the climb to the top (they did it with ease) but we all found the hike to be unexciting and monotonous.

For the first third of the hike we were stuck in the fog. We were unable to see anymore than 5 meters in any direction, having no idea how high we had climbed or the beauty that surrounded us. Finally, once the clouds receded, the views were amazing, making the hike more enjoyable.

The main reason for doing this hike is for the views from the top. The landscape that unfolds as we climbed higher was incredible…Wanaka Lake, the town of Wanaka, small islands, the dramatic clouds…it was stunning. When we pictured New Zealand in our heads, this is what we saw. For these views it was worth the two hour plus climb up the mountain.

Once on top of Roy’s Peak, we took some photos, had a picnic lunch, and then started our walk back down the mountain. As the day went on, the skies cleared even more and we had fabulous views over Wanaka. These are some of my favorite views in New Zealand.

Hiking in Wanaka

Hiking Roys Peak New Zealand

Earth Trekkers Wanaka

Roys Peak Hike in April

Hiking Roys Peak with Kids

Roys Peak Track with Kids

Roys Peak Hike

Julie Rivenbark hiking

Hiking Roys Peak with Kids

Tim and Tyler

Wanaka in April

Wanaka New Zealand in April

About the Hike

The Roy’s Peak Track is accessed from a carpark located just ten minutes outside of Wanaka. Parking is free but a $2 donation per person is kindly requested (but not mandatory) at the start of the hike. The staff at our hotel recommended that we should not leave valuables in our car as theft can sometimes be an issue.

The recommended time to complete the hike is 5 to 7 hours.  It is a steady 1300 meter climb to the top, steep in some places, with very few flat or downhill sections. The higher you go the better the views get.

The entire length of the hike is 16 km. It took us four and half hours total to do the hike, including a stop for lunch and a stop for photos. We did not go all of the way to the peak. Higher than the point where we took our family photo the mountains were completely hidden in the clouds. Other hikers who went higher advised us that there was zero visibility higher up on the mountain.

Conditions can change quite dramatically on the climb, so be prepared for all weather conditions. Also, bring more water than you think you will need. That steady climb will have you working up a sweat and even in April conditions were quite warm. Then, once at the top, things cooled down dramatically, and we were all happy we had our fleeces.Hiking Roy’s Peak Track with Kids

Tyler and Kara, who were aged 12 and 10, had no problems with the hike. They did great on the climb and descent. As I mentioned earlier, since it was not technically difficult, they found the hike to be boring and monotonous. Children younger than Tyler and Kara can easily complete the hike, just be prepared for occasional breaks.

After the Hike

Feel like chilling out the rest of the day? Go to Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka…relax on old sofas, watch a movie, drink wine, and eat freshly baked, warm cookies. It’s not to be missed!

If you have any questions about how to hike Roys Peak Track, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about New Zealand

Planning a trip to New Zealand? Read all of our articles in our New Zealand Destination Guide.

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Roy's Peak Track Wanaka New Zealand


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Comments 26

  1. Love this spot. June last year I went as far as the northerly outlook that everyone gets pics from. 1150ish metres? 8 degrees I think and clear and perfect walking weather for going up quickly. Tried it a few days earlier but the shortness of the day and the time it takes got me. NZ is a place where you must always think ahead because the weather changes quickly and radically at times. For Roys, like a lot of walking there, I had a spare layer, some protection etc. Still got cool on the way down despite putting everything on and jogging some of it. I saw a guy lugging a big pack that turned out to be a paraglider – looked amazing seeing him against the backdrop of the fields and hills east of Wanaka.

  2. Hi, This looks a stunning place and I definitely would like to do it.

    I have couple of question:
    1. When did you visit this place? We are in Wanaka on 22nd February 2020. Is it a good time to do roys peak trek?
    2. We have not done any treking/hiking before this? Would you still suggest us to do this. (As far as fitness is concerned, we are average.)


    1. Post

      We did this in April 2015. February is a good time to do Roys Peak. It’s summer, so it will be warm. Start early, if you can, before it warms up and also before it gets crowded (this is a popular hike). You can do this without any prior experience. The trail is very easy to follow without any technical sections. Just be prepared for a big, long climb. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi! I found this post looking at information about Roy’s Peak hike and I’m just wondering if this would be okay for someone who is afraid of heights? I really want to do this hike with my husband but I don’t want to get half way up and then freak out 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Post

      Hello Nicole. Yes, you can do this hike if you have a fear of heights. There are no drop-offs along the trail so you should be able to get to where we took our photos without an issue. Once up that high you can enjoy the view without getting close to the edge, but you will probably want to skip the long, skinny walk out to the viewpoint. We didn’t go all of the way up, because of cloud cover, so I don’t know what it would be like if you went higher. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  4. What a great article! My husband and I are very fit and active and looking to do this on our trip to Central Otago in May. We have a one year old which we carry in a back carrier. Do you think it is possible to do with our son with us? Or with elevation etc would you advise against it? Thanks

    1. Post

      Hello Angela. If you are relatively physically fit and accustomed to carrying your son in the carrier, you can do this hike. It is a steady uphill climb, and it will be harder with a small person on your back, but it’s entirely doable. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  5. What a walk. It nearly killed us!
    The most amazing views. Well worth the effort. Thanks for pointing this out to us
    John and Fiona from UK

  6. Hi there,

    Would you say this hike is significantly more strenuous than hiking Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan? Would appreciate any comparisons you can offer. Trying to decide if we should attempt this or not.

    Thank you.

    1. Post

      If you go simply by distance and elevation gain, Roy’s Peak is much more strenuous than the Tiger’s Nest. Roy’s Peak is almost 10 miles in length, whereas Tiger’s Nest is 4 miles long. You climb 4000 feet on Roy’s Peak vs. 1700 feet to the Tiger’s Nest. However, the Tiger’s Nest hike is done at a higher elevation, which can even things out a little bit. The New Zealand website describes Roy’s Peak as a easy walking track, but I do think it is rather strenuous. You will basically walk uphill for five miles. You have to have at least an average level of fitness to do Roy’s Peak Track, but there is nothing technically challenging about it. Hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi Vinicius!

    My friends and I will be there this November and we have never hiked before.

    We don’t know what to expect and whether we will be able to find the correct way up. Will there be clear signage to guide us through or are the tracks clear and distinct to follow? We’re afraid we’ll lose our way or walk off track and not sure if a paid guide is necessary. Appreciate your help.

    1. Post

      Hello Ellen. A paid guide is not necessary for this hike. The path is very clear to follow and there is no danger of wandering off or getting lost. Cheers, Julie

  8. your photos look great! May I know what camera/lens did you use, and would a normal point and shoot compact be enough? I have a DSLR but not sure if it’d be too heavy to carry for a long hike such as this.

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Post

      I have a Canon 5D Mark IV currently (since June 2017). 95% of the photos on this site are shot with a Canon 5D Mark III, even these photos of Roy’s Peak. Yes, it’s heavy, but for me, it’s been worth it to have these photos. There are days I consider downsizing, but we get so many comments and compliments on our photography that I keep lugging this beast around. LOL. So sure, you can bring your DSLR, you’ll just burn extra calories and can have a really nice dinner and dessert later! Cheers, Julie

  9. Great post and we did like your comment “we all found the hike to be unexciting and monotonous”. Have to agree with you there although when we did it we left in the dark at 5am in the morning which made things a little more interesting and of course meant we were up there for sunrise. We suspect getting kids up before sunrise would be a bit of a challenge 😉

    1. Post

      Wow, being up there for sunrise would be nice. Tyler and Kara wouldn’t have been fans of that, plus, we drove over to Wanaka that morning from Queenstown, another reason why we got started a little later in the day. It’s not the most exciting hike, but it is so worth it for the view!! Cheers, Julie

  10. Thanks for the post! I was wondering if this track would be possible with a pram? We have a one year old daughter travelling with us that would be too heavy to carry the whole way – what percentage would you say is the track grassy enough for a pram?

    1. Post

      For most of the way up, the trail is wide and grassy. However, I think it would be very difficult to push a pram the entire way up to the top of Roy’s Peak. It is challenging enough just walking it, let along pushing a stroller up it. It would be easier to get a toddler backpack carrier to carry your one year old. Even then, it will be challenging. I do not mean to discourage you, but I don’t want you to get there and have it be much more difficult than you are anticipating. Cheers, Julie

  11. Thank you for your story. It’s so amazing!
    I’m planning to travel to New Zealand next month and I would like to hiking roy’s peak track with my kid too. But he is only 1 year and 8 months old. Is it possible to carry him there? i Is it safe? Thank you

    1. Post

      Hello. The hike up Roy’s Peak is a constant uphill walk. It can be very challenging with just a backpack. It would be much more difficult carrying a toddler. If you are very physically fit, you can do it. We did see several people hiking up to the peak carrying paragliding chutes on their backs. I do not know how much these weigh but they were pretty big packs on their backs. So, you may be able to do it, but it will be very challenging. There are other shorter hikes in the area that you can do that may be a better option. As far as safety is concerned, most of the trail is grassy, although at the top there are some steep cliffs to stay away from. Good luck! Julie

  12. Dear,

    I would like to go to new zealand in march and do some trails wiht the kids(roys peak, mt cook, etc). Do you know what jacket should I buy for the kids? A windstopper is enough or do I have to buy a fleece as well?

    Kind Regards,

    1. Post

      Hello! I’d bring a rain jacket and a lightweight fleece. If you will be on the South Island, temperatures can get chilly, especially at night and at higher elevations on the trails. Cheers! – Julie

      1. Thanks a lot Julie, for the reply.

        I will stay 6 nights in the North island and 10 days in the south Island. As I live in Brazil, we are not use to buy rain jackets and fleeces. Do you mean something like a ‘triclimate’ from north face ( https://www.thenorthface.com/shop/toddler-boys-jackets-and-vests/toddler-boys-vortex-triclimate-jacket-nf0a2tn4?variationId=49W )
        or this alpine jacket from columbia is enough ( http://www.columbia.com/boys-alpine-action-jacket-%E2%80%93-toddlers–1514283.html?cgid=kids-toddler-jackets&dwvar_1514283_variationColor=010#prefn1=technologyInitiative&prefv1=Dry&start=0)

        Sorry for bothering, I have never bought this before, and I will buy 2 for my 2 kids from the internet, so I have to be sure which one. Can you help me?

        Kind regards,

        1. Post

          Hello Vinicius. I think the jackets you picked out are probably warmer and more expensive than what you will really need. It will just be the start of autumn in New Zealand in March. For most of the time, you will be OK with short or long sleeves. You just need the fleece for the little bit of time it will get chilly. I would not spend a huge amount of money on this if you do not also need the fleece at home. I would either wear a long sleeve shirt under a rain jacket or invest in a cheap, lightweight fleece. If you want to purchase one, we are fans of the North Face Glacier Zip Hoodie. These sell for $40 USD and toddler sizes are available on the North Face website. It’s up to you. Temperatures in March in Queenstown average 9 to 15 degrees Celsius. Hope this helps! – Julie

          1. Hi Julie,

            Thanks again for the help!

            I went to the north face website and found a rain jacket for $65 USD(BOYS’ RESOLVE REFLECTIVE JACKET) .

            Should I buy both the rain jacket and the fleece? If I have to choose one, which would be more useful?

            Kind Regards,

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