Get a full description of this strenuous hike up Mount Roy that offers spectacular scenic views of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring.
The summit of Mount Roy towers 1,578 meters (5,177 ft) above sea level. You can get 360-degree views of most of Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring, the Matukituki Valley, Wanaka, and even see as far as Hawkdun Range in Central Otago.
However, you must do this walk on a clear day with little to no clouds to be able to enjoy the views.
The Mt. Roy Track is closed in spring from October 1 to November 10 (inclusive) to allow for lambing. The Mt. Roy Track crosses private land and no dogs or bikes are allowed on the track.
There are two sections to this walk. The first section goes through paddocks and you’ll be walking mostly on grass. The second section goes through The Stack Conservation Area and here you’ll be walking mostly on gravel and among alpine tussock.
The Mt. Roy Track is level in some places, but expect to be always walking uphill. Some parts are very steep.
How to get to the Roys Peak (Mount Roy) Track in Wanaka
From Wanaka, drive in western direction on Wanaka – Mount Aspiring Road toward Glendhu Bay.
If you’re entering Wanaka from State Highway 84, you’ll drive straight onto Wanaka – Mount Aspiring Road. If you’re coming from Queenstown via Crown Range Road and Cardrona Valley Road, you’ll have to make a left turn when you reach the intersection at Lake Wanaka.
After driving for approximately 6 km (4 mi) on Wanaka – Mount Aspiring Road, look for the Roys Peak Track parking lot on the left side of the road where the track starts. There is a sign and an information panel at the beginning of the Roys Peak Track.
Hiking up Mount Roy in Wanaka
The Mount Roy Track is a very strenuous hike uphill. There aren’t many level stretches on the trail to allow you to rest. It is almost all uphill. So make sure that you have a very good level of muscular endurance in addition to cardiovascular endurance for the way up. The downhill walk will be hard on your knees and the muscles of your upper legs. Wear good hiking or trail running shoes and socks to avoid getting blisters.
The scenic view from Mount Roy Track and a cross formed by hikers using rocks in Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand
The scenic view from the Mount Roy Track in Wanaka
The last time I did this walk in summer, I started walking at 8:15 a.m. and reached the top around 3:15 p.m. with an hour’s break in between to have lunch and other shorter breaks in between to take photographs. While my fitness level is not too shabby, I’m a very slow hiker uphill but can descend at a rapid pace.
There were three hikers who took two hours to reach the top, so the estimated Department of Conservation time of 5 – 6 hours return can be achieved, but it took me a total of six hours to reach the top and two hours to get back down.
Allow for enough time to get back down. Remember that in autumn and winter there are less daylight hours than in summer. You can check sunset and sunrise times for Wanaka on the MetService website.
I’ve walked this trail in both summer and autumn. In autumn, Lake Wanaka is dotted by yellow trees and looks very lovely from above, especially Glendhu Bay.
The mountains may have snow in all seasons. The Mt. Roy Track tends to be clear of snow in summer and autumn in New Zealand.
The track starts out grassy with lots of sheep poo lying around everywhere. So look where you’re stepping or clean your shoes after the walk. Remember that you’re walking on privately owned farmer’s land. There is one stile at the beginning of the walk, and then you’ll have to cross three more stiles before you reach The Stack Conservation Area, which is managed by the Department of Conservation.
The Stack Conservation Area Department of Conservation (DOC) sign on the Mt Roy Track in Wanaka, New Zealand
Once you’ve reached The Stack Conservation Area – so once you’ve crossed the fourth stile – the track becomes gravel and there won’t be much sheep poo lying around.
View of Mount Aspiring and Lake Wanaka from the Mt Roy Track in Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand.
From the fourth stile, it is approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) to a saddle where there is a lookout and where you can already see most of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring. So if you’re tired, you can turn back here.
Mast at the summit of Roys Peak on the Mt Roy Track in Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand
But if you’re still feeling energetic, you can walk for another 1 km (0.6 mi) to the summit of Mt. Roy. Your elevation gain on this hike will be approximately 1,258 meters (4,127 ft).
The walk up Mount Roy will make your legs ache, but the scenic view is well worth the effort. As a side note: I could hardly walk the day after the hike, which gave me a good excuse to be lazy and dip my aching feet with blisters in the cold but soothing water of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. It took my legs three days to recover from this hike.
Basic information for Roys Peak Track Wanaka
|Trail length:||16 km (10 mi) return|
|Elevation gain:||1,258 meters (4,127 ft)|
|Walking time:||5 – 6 hours return (varies depending on your fitness level)|
|Trail type:||Grassy farmland turning to gravel. The track follows a dirt road and is well signposted.|
|Best time to walk:||Morning (in autumn or winter) or afternoon (in summer)|
|What you’ll see:||Scenic mountain views, Mt. Aspiring, Lake Wanaka|
The following map shows the location of the parking lot and the location of the top of Mount Roy. The Mount Roy track which follows a dirt road is clearly visible on the map from the parking lot to the summit.
Use the plus and minus buttons to zoom in and out of the map and to see more or less detail on the map.