Everything You Need to Know About Hiking Roy’s Peak
So you want to hike Roy’s Peak, huh? Well, before jumping into to this journey, you need to be prepared for the climate. If you’re fortunate enough to have spring or summer weather, this post may not be for you. However, for the novice hiker, it’s important to be prepared and have the proper gear. We’ll also discuss any major advice we wish that we knew ahead of time. So keep reading!
Roy’s Peak Facts
- Location: Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
- Height of Peak: 5,177 ft (above sea level)
- Elevation gain: 4,127 ft (from base)
- Distance: 10 miles return hike (5 miles each way)
- Duration: 2.5-3 hrs to iconic lookout point, 3-3.5 hrs to Roy’s Peak (5-7 hrs return hike)
- Side note: Iconic photo spot is actually not the Roy’s Peak hike. The true summit is another 30 min hike to the top.
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Sunrise Hike Itinerary
The Roy’s Peak hike isn’t for everyone, but the views at the top are rewarding for those willing to take on the challenge. For people who do not hike frequently, the climb to the top is quite intense. Although the summit isn’t at a very high elevation, the difference in altitude from base to peak is steep. From the start, the change in elevation is significant. The majority of the hike is at a steep angle and you will not come across many flat areas until you reach the top. This is the only part that makes this hike somewhat difficult.
First, it is best to hit the hay early and wake up by 3:30 am if you wish to make it to the top for sunrise. The golden hour only lasts about 20 minutes, so you have a small margin for photo ops. We stayed at Glendhu Bay Holiday Park the prior night. It is about a 5 minute drive to the Roy’s Peak base/parking lot. Try to arrive by 4 am for optimal timing. There were only about 10 other hikers who arrived that early.
Be sure to bring a headlamp as it is dark on the trail. Some hikers brought hiking poles, but we didn’t feel like we needed them. Take frequent breaks and don’t forget to hydrate! The lack of flat terrain during the climb will force you to stop more often than you’d think. You won’t be the only one taking a breather!
The overall hike to the top took us a little over 2.5 hours. We maintained a steady pace and surpassed enough people to make it first to the lookout. We made it just in time for the golden hour and were able to take our time getting videos/photos. The winter is the best time to visit because there are significantly less hikers. There were only about 5 people waiting behind us in line. Apparently in the summer, the line gets crazy long. The nice part was that due to the small group, everyone was willing to help take photos for others. Instagram perfection!
You will want to bring snacks for the hike. We didn’t eat during the trip up, but we chowed down on some sandwiches and trail mix after getting our photos. Below is a list of snacks we brought with us.
- Trail mix
We loved that the dramatic views weren’t unveiled until we got to the top for sunrise. The trip downhill was filled with beautiful panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring. The downhill portion was yucky and muddy. All of the hardened mud had turned into slush as the air temp increased. We were grateful to be wearing hiking boots, not our Nike’s like others (silly…I know). Use caution on the way down if it is slippery. We actually think it took us longer to get to the bottom than it did to get to the top. Regardless, you will be relieved and feel a sense of accomplishment by the end!
What to Pack for Winter Hikes
Our biggest concern was what to pack for the hike. We weren’t sure what weather conditions to expect. We knew it would be cold, but were unsure of what the peak would present. The base temp was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Before sunrise, we were actually warm and took off a few layers. At the top, it was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit and there were some patches of snow/ice. It was not nearly as bad as we expected. To think we almost brought crampons! 😆 Below is a list of items that came in handy. Click on images for links to purchase items.
- Down Jacket – made of duck or geese feathers. This will provide insulation for cooler days and makes for a perfect top layer. Also, a jacket that is water resistant is important. We mostly wore ours at the top when the temp really began to drop
- Fleece Jacket – your main insulation that is also comfortable to hike in
- Thermal Underwear – the best bottom layers for extra warmth
- Windbreaker – the perfect layer for wearing on top of your fleece jacket. Any high winds or rain/snow at the top and you’ll be grateful to have this!
- Trail Pants – top pant layer for protection against Mother Nature’s elements (mud, brush, snow, rain, etc.)
- Hiking Leggings – stylish for layering over thermal underwear. Invest in a good pair of water resistant, yet warmth-providing pair
- Gloves – your hands are usually the first to freeze. New e-tip gloves make it easy to use phone and camera while wearing
- Scarf – always protect your face and neck
- Hat or Beanie – majority of heat is lost from your head..cover up!
- Headlamp – 4 am hiking, steep trails, unknown territory..not the most fashionable, but trust us..just invest in it
- Camera Backpack – a must for photographers. Comes with waterproof cover. More expensive brands have waterproof material if you’re willing to spend over $100
- Hiking Boots – a sturdy mid-ankle boot with waterproof or water resistant material. The ankle boots are great for providing support and preventing twisting ankles, etc.
- Manfrotto Lightweight Tripod – worth the investment for amazing photos! Withstands most terrain and winds, light enough to travel with, easy to use
Best of luck on your voyage and don’t forget to take a moment to stop taking photos and take in the magnificent view!