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 Roy’s Peak Track

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.

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

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

BEST OF NEW ZEALAND: There are many wonderful things to do in New Zealand, such as visiting the Milford Sound, bungy jumping and jet boat riding in Queenstown, touring the Marlborough wine region, visiting Aoraki/Mt. Cook, and hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP: With 3 weeks in New Zealand, visit the highlights on a road trip to the North Island and South Island. If you have less time, you can shorten this itinerary by spending 2 weeks on the South Island.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.


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


Roy's Peak Track Wanaka New Zealand


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Comments 26

  1. Avatar for Nick nick
  2. Avatar for John Hogan
    John Hogan

    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.

  3. Avatar for Dhaval

    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. Avatar for Julie 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

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