Alana and I had been eyeing the Roys Peak hike in Wanaka for a while, but my mom and sister wanted nothing to do with it. We decided to split up on our second day in Wanaka so we could pursue our respective interests. My mom and sister visited a vineyard while Alana and I tackled the Roys Peak Track.
We had another sunny day with beautiful, warm weather. My mom and sister dropped us off at the trailhead and we started up right away. At this point it had been about a month since our last big hike (The Abel Tasman Coast Track) and the Roys Peak Track didn’t hesitate to point out the fact that we hadn’t been keeping up with our fitness. The track was pretty steep right from the get go, and we were sweating and panting after the first hundred meters.
It helped that the views were really incredible. It didn’t matter where we were on the trail, any time we needed to stop and catch our breath we were rewarded with great views of Wanaka and the surrounding mountains and lakes.
The trail didn’t ever really level out. There were a few brief dips and flat stretches, but it was never long before the trail resumed it’s steady uphill climb. Once we were warmed up, though, our muscle relaxation breaks came less frequently. Eventually we reached the famous lookout. There were a lot of people sitting around enjoying the view, having a bite to eat. There were even more people queuing up to get a picture on the lookout. “Is this the top?” we asked each other. The trail continued up behind the crowds, but of course, we had to stop to get a picture.
The line waiting to get pictures at the lookout here was painfully slow. Everyone in line had to get a individual picture on their phone, then on their go-pro, then a group picture on the phone, and then another go-pro. And that’s not including all the arms out, attempted handstands, looking into the distance, and other endlessly excessive posing that went on. We were standing still in line for so long that we cooled off enough to need to break our jackets out. Now, it is a really beautiful lookout and you should definitely get a picture to remember the hike, but try to exercise a little common courtesy and put a 5 minute cap on the photo shoot.
After waiting in line for about as long as it took us to hike up to the lookout, we finally got to the front and executed our photo shoot. During our wait we came up with the plan to walk to the lookout with our video camera out and spin around in a circle to get the whole view, then ask the next person in line to get a picture on our phone. The whole deal took less then a minute. We made a quick exit when we were finished and looked up the mountain.
It seemed like a lot of hikers were coming up to the lookout and then turning around to head right back down. The wind had picked up and it was starting to feel pretty chilly. We debated turning around ourselves, but then we would be just like all these other photo hikers. We were in this for the experience, not some likes on Instagram (or so I thought back when we did the hike, before we got our NEW INSTAGRAM)! We agreed to start up the next portion of trail, and if it got too tough we would turn around. Of course once we started walking again, our body temperatures started rising and we were reminded of that strange masochistic impulse that keeps us coming back for hike after hike.
This next portion of the hike (probably something like the top third) was much less crowded, and so in my opinion, much more enjoyable. There were a few small branches of trail that broke off the main trail and for some reason we decided to take one of these. It seemed like a shortcut, but it was so much steeper than the main trail that it probably took us even longer to get to the top going this way. I had a bit of vertigo looking over the edge. The view from the top was great and there wasn’t any line of people waiting to take pictures. We sat down for our mid-hike snack and soaked in the scenery.
The way back down was much less taxing than the way up. It was interesting returning on the same portion of trail that we had taken on the way up. Several hours had passed since we started the hike and so we got to see the trail in a slightly different light on the way down. It really did make a difference, and we felt like we were seeing everything again for the first time. All of our other long hikes had either been circuits or one-way, so this was a cool, new hiking experience for us. I personally enjoyed the warm orange glow that the evening light cast on the surrounding mountains.
We called the other half of our squad about 45 minutes before we reached the bottom so they could come pick us up. We were pretty tired that night, but were so glad that we had made the time to do this hike. If you’re thinking about giving it a try check out the information here!