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 above sea level.
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 the 1 October to 10 November (inclusive) to allow for lambing. The Mt Roy track crosses private land and no dogs or bikes are allowed on the track.
There are 2 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.
From the Wanaka township, drive in Western direction on the Wanaka – Mt. Aspiring Road towards Glendhu Bay.
If you’re entering Wanaka from highway 84, you’ll drive straight onto the Wanaka – Mt. Aspiring Road. If you’re coming from Queenstown via the Crown Range Road and Cardrona Valley, you’ll have to make a left turn when you reach the intersection at Lake Wanaka.
After driving for approximately 6 km on the Wanaka – Mt. Aspiring Road, look for the Roys Peak Track carpark 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.
The Mt Roy track is a very strenuous hike uphill. There aren’t many level stretches along this hike to allow you to rest. It is almost all uphill. So make sure that you’ve got a very good level of muscular endurance in addition to cardiovascular endurance for the way up. The way down 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, Wanaka, New Zealand
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 3 hikers who took 2 hours to reach the top, so the estimated Department of Conservation time of 5 – 6 hours return can be achieved.
The Mt Roy hike took me a total of 6 hours to reach the top and 2 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 web site.
I’ve done this track both in 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 3 more stiles before you reach The Stack Conservation Area, which is managed by the Department of Conservation.
Once you’ve reached The Stack Conservation Area (once you’ve crossed the 4rd stile), the track becomes gravel and there won’t be much sheep poo lying around.
From the 4rd stile it is approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) to a saddle where there is a lookout where you can already see most of Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring. So if you’re tired, you can turn back here.
But if you’re still feeling energetic, you can walk another 1 km (0.6 mi) to the summit of Mt Roy. Your elevation gain on this hike will be approximately 1,258 meters.
The walk up Mount Roy will make your legs ache, but the scenic view is well worth the effort. As a side note: I was totally crippled the day after the walk, which gave me a good excuse to be lazy and dip my aching feet (with blisters) in the cold, but soothing waters of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. It took my legs 3 days to recover from this hike.
|Trail length:||11 km (7 mi) return|
|Elevation gain:||1,258 meters|
|Walking time:||5 – 6 hours return (varies depending on your fitness level)|
|Trail type:||Grassy farm land turning into 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 top.
Use the plus and minus buttons to zoom in and out of the map and to see more or less detail on the map.
Figure 1. Map of Mount Roy Track, Wanaka, New Zealand.
The following 3-minute video gives you an impression of what to expect on this scenic hike up Mount Roy in Wanaka.
Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.