Trail Distance: 6.8 miles
Elevation Gain: ~4100'
Terrain Rating: Easy Side of Moderate (4WD track but very steep)
Hike In: 9:24AM
Hike Out: 12:50PM
Trailhead: The Roy's Peak parking lot is only 10 minutes from Wanaka
Roy's Peak is a famous hike in Wanaka, South Island. It's probably the most popular hike to do in the area. With the accessible trailhead, mind-blowing views, and nice footing, it's easy to see why! We were planning on doing Roy's Peak as a sunrise hike, meaning waking up at 3AM, but we ended up watching the stars so late that we couldn't do the wake up. If we had more time, I might have tried again to just hike up their at 10PM and sleep with a tent until sunrise.
The trail is very steep and starts immediately. You will be hiking on a 4WD road the whole time, so sneakers are ok. I actually liked hiking in my lighter Nike sneakers rather than my hiking boots. Poles are recommended for the downhill if you are doing a lot of hiking. It saves your knees! From the parking lot, we reached the gate "checkmarks" at the following times:
- Gate 1: 9:45AM
- Gate 2: 9:57AM
- Gate 3: 10:44AM
- Peak 1: 11:04AM
- Peak 2: 11:40AM
There are shortcuts you can take across the switchbacks on the way up, but I don't recommend taking them because the trail is steep enough. They are nice to take on the way down though provided you have strong knees/joints or poles. The way back was a lot quicker for us since we half jogged it and took all the short cuts. It took us 2.5 hours to get up to the peak and only over an hour to get down.
Overall this is a fantastic half-day option in Wanaka. The views are absolutely incredible! It's a very popular hike and we saw a lot of folks on the way down. Be prepared to bring lots of water if it is sunny. The entire hike is exposed and we ran into many unprepared, thirsty hikers! There are other nice hikes like the Rob Roy Glacier Track or the Blue Pools if you want to drive further out of Wanaka!