The Roys Peak hike is one of the most well known day hikes in south island New Zealand.
This tough trail on the outskirts of Mount Aspiring National Park rewards you with almost fjord-like views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding landscape.
If you’re passing through the Wanaka area and looking for a challenge, don’t miss this hike! This travel guide will explain how to get there, and everything you need to know before you go!
- Distance: 16 kilometers (10 mi) return
- Elevation Gain: 1,250 meters (4,100 ft)
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Duration: 5-6 hrs
Where Is Roys Peak?
The Roys Peak trail is located on the South Island of New Zealand, just outside of the town of Wanaka.
The trailhead is a 70 minute drive from Queenstown, or just 10 minutes from Wanaka.
What To Expect
The Roys Peak hike is a strenuous out-and-back trail, and 90% of your time will be spent walking uphill or downhill. It’s a calf/knee/ankle killer. You’ve been warned!
Is it worth it? I think so, but once is enough. We wouldn’t do this hike a second time. As you climb the switchbacks, your first views will be of Lake Wanaka and the farmlands behind you, with the lake and mountains becoming more expansive as you go.
Along the way, you’ll have the occasional sheep (and lots of hikers) to keep you company.
Finally, you step out onto a long flat ridge with incredible panoramic views of Lake Wanaka, Glendhu Bay, and the mountain ranges on both sides.
Regardless of how we felt about the exhausting hike up until now, this view really bowled us over.
With a good zoom lens, you could capture some really stunning pics here.
Like most hikers, we decided to stop here at the lookout point and not go to the top peak. Reason being, if you go to the peak it’s another steep slog with 1,000+ feet (300 m) of extra elevation gain.
More importantly, the general consensus is that this spot has the best views anyway!
There’s no entrance fee, but they do ask for a voluntary $2 NZD donation at the start of the hike.
- The track is closed for lambing from 1 October – 10 November
- In winter months you may need alpine equipment (ice axe and crampons)
- Drones are not allowed (boo)
What To Bring
- Water: Bring 2L per person or more. There’s no drinking water along the trail.
- Snacks: I’ve said this before, but junk food makes a long hike easier. It just does!
- Sunscreen: This entire hike is exposed, and I got one of the worst sunburns of my life. Wifey is from a tropical country and she still got bad burns. Bring sunscreen!
- Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking shoes. You’ll be walking all day, sometimes on slippery gravel and steep inclines or declines.
- Camera: Something with a zoom will give you amazing photos at the top viewpoint.
Where To Stay – Camping
There are several holiday parks in the Wanaka area if you need a place to camp:
- Albert Town Campground
- Lake Outlet Holiday Park
- Mount Aspiring Holiday Park
- Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park
- Wanaka TOP 10 Holiday Park
More info on each of these can be found in the handy CamperMate NZ app.
Wanaka also has some hotel options, but this is a touristy lakeside town so things are not exactly cheap.
Unfortunately there aren’t any free campgrounds in the Wanaka area unless you want to drive 35 minutes south to Lake Dunstan.