Hikes & Walks New Zealand South Island Travel Wanaka

South Island in Winter Day 5: On Top of The World @ Roy’s Peak (Wanaka)

This was the morning we ticked off the last of the big things we wanted to do in New Zealand: climbing up to Roy’s Peak! The last time we were in Wanaka we couldn’t do the hike since it was lambing season, so we were determined in making it up to the top.

We left our bags in the morning at the hotel, and drove in the dark to the carpark at the start of the walk. Since the walk is super popular and gets crazy busy we thought we’d try to beat the crowds and start early. There was another big group when we arrived at 7:30am, who started after us but they walked past us about a third of the way up.


It was super cold so the ground was also literally frozen – the ground had iced up and we were walking on frozen dirt. It was so quiet, except for the sheep around us. One had a face off with Kran on our way up. Then we hit the snowline and there were no more animals (sometimes we saw animal tracks in the snow though). Just us and the rising sun. We didn’t take many photos on the way up since we thought the best views would be at the top.

We have different views on how hard the walk was. I thought it was one of the hardest ones we’ve done, and Kran thought it was super easy – didn’t even break a sweat. It was technically easy, as in there was no scrambling across rocks or crossing water, and the hardest part was trying not to slip on the more icy parts of the snow (and I thought that the snow also slowed my progress up). But it was a steep incline allllllllllllllllll the way up. All 1200m up. There was a break in the middle where it flattened out slightly and also snowed and we had an awesome time. Then it was a hard slog up again once the grade steepened again.

But we made it!! It was a ridiculously happy moment when we arrived at the peak! No one else around. Just us and the view and the mountain.

It was freezing up there, -10 deg C + windchill. I couldn’t feel my fingers. I wanted that thermos full of hot tea dammit. It was a hallelujiah when the sun came out, like a heater on our faces. The other times I was trying to warm my fingers up inside Kran’s coat. Even that couldn’t dampen our spirits though, we stayed for what felt like 15 minutes but was actually an hour before the next lot of hikers arrived. They must have taken around the same time to hike up as us, we chatted to them and they started about an hour after us.

We were probably up there for a total of 1.5 hours, before the cold took over and we decided we needed to start heading back to drive to Queenstown. It was so cold we didn’t even feel like eating at the summit, even after hiking all morning. Instead we started the climb down which ended up being more treacherous than climbing up.

The snow and ice had been melting since the sun came up so the way down was slippery and muddy. There were a few near miss slips, and I managed to get my entire left foot stuck in a mud puddle (fun!). But we made it unscathed to a lookout where we paused to have lunch, before finishing the walk back at the carpark around 2:00pm.

What a day!!!!

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