Wanaka is a small town in the Otago Region of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park although the lake and some of the surrounding day hikes are draws in and of themselves. One such hike is the hike to Roy’s Peak. It’s a 10 mile roundtrip hike with 4,028 ft elevation gain so starting the hike early is key. My plan to be at the trailhead between 5 and 5:30AM (which is late for this hike anyhow) was vetoed. We arrived at about 6:15AM instead and while we started the hike under the stars it wasn’t long before the first lights of dawn came. On reflection, we wished we had opted for the earlier start time. The trail is easy to find in the dark and the night sky was magnificent. The trail runs through private farmland which in New Zealand invariably means sheep. We could hear them calling in the dark but it was hard to make them out until it got a bit more light. Walking through fields of sheep at sunrise with beautiful views along the way makes the tough asent a bit more bearable. Starting early is key though as the trail is exposed the entire way. We finished around mid-day and the folks who were just starting the asent were barely a mile from the start and already soaked through with sweat.
The views from higher up are well worth the effort but the tricky thing about this hike is the fog. The peak is frequently fogged in and while beautiful in its own right, it can be a little frustrating after hours of hiking. The weather does frequently change though so you can try to wait it out.
Stop by Big Fig in town for some treats to indulge in at the top. These gluten/dairy free coconut date bars were dreamy. We actually went back to Big Fig so I could get some more to bring on other hikes. Nothing gets me up a mountain faster than something sweet at the top! Big Fig was a favorite restaurant from this trip and I’d highly recommend stopping by for a meal.
If looking for another hike close to town, we also did the Lake Wanaka lookout hike via Diamond Lake, shown below. It’s an easy 2 hour hike for nice views if you have a free afternoon in the area. The drive down Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road is quite lovely as well if looking to give your legs a rest. We didn’t get to explore the park proper on this go but look forward to it on the next trip!