Roys Peak Hiking Trail
Possibly New Zealand's most popular day hike
- Destination: Wanaka
- Season: November-September
- Difficulty: Medium
- Distance: 15.7 kilometers (out‑and‑back)
- Elevation Gain: 1,300 meters
- Duration: 5-6 hours
About Roys Peak
The trail up to Roys Peak by Wanaka has become one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand. And everyone is hunting that great Instagram picture they can add to their own account. But even if you don't care too much about that Instagram moment you will surely enjoy the views of Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and the Mount Aspiring National Park from the summit.
The actual trail up to the peak is not super exciting, but most the views on the way up make sure that this hike is well worth the time spent on it.
From Wanaka head west and take Mount Aspiring Road 6.6 kilometers to Roys Peak carpark. The carpark has room for about 35 cars and is situated right by the main road. The carpark will often fill up early so make sure to get there early in the day.
By shuttle bus or taxi
If you don't have a car or don't want to worry about not finding a free spot in the carpark you can choose to take a shuttle bus or a taxi. A return ticket to the carpark costs 20 NZ dollars and the bus leaves at 0815 from Wanaka. Alternatively, you can get a taxi to drive you to the carpark.
You will find the trailhead right by the carpark. It is easy to follow this wide trail, but the steep ascent makes it strenuous as it zigzags up the mountain. The trail starts by taking you through some peaceful grasslands with lots of sheep around you and ends up in an area of tussock around the summit.
About 30 minutes before you reach the main peak you get to the famous ledge where a lot of the pictures of Roys Peak on Instagram are taken. Many choose to return down when they get here, but the views from the peak further up make it worth the extra 30 minutes. As you get close to the end of the trail choose if you want to stay on the main trail or if you want to hike up the ridge to the peak.
- In winter you need to be able to use alpine equipment like an ice axe and crampons. Above 1000 meters this trail has some challenging avalanche terrain so make sure to check the local conditions before you go.
- This trail crosses private land, so respect the property and stay on the marked trail.
- No drinking water on the trail or in the parking lot. Make sure to bring enough water, especially on warm days.
- The weather can change quickly, even in summer hypothermia is a real risk. Check the current weather forecast at MetService.
- The total change in elevation is 1228 meters.
- No dogs are allowed on this trail.
- The track is closed in October and a bit into November for sheep lambing. Check up to date information on the Department of Conservation's website.
- Public toilets in the parking lot and at the ledge near the end of the trail.
- Stock up on anything you need for the hike in Wanaka.
- Free parking, but do expect it to be full after 9 am in high season
Questions or comments? Let us know.
By Nadja Kroon
World traveler originally from the Netherlands.