Roy’s Peak, Wanaka

Where else, in less than 3 hours walking can you get a spectacular 360-degree view of the Southern Alps, the full 45km length of Lake Wanaka, and the Clutha river valley? Even more stunning when the peaks are capped with fresh snow in mid-January.

Reaching the 1,578-metre summit of Roy’s Peak is no morning stroll to the local café. DOC describes the track as “steep” which does not do justice to the serious number of calories burned over the 1,300 metres from the carpark to the top of the peak. The track climbs its way relentlessly up the mountain over land covered in scrub, grass, and plenty of thistle and weed.

Consolation is the changes in the landscapes as you climb. The hills from the car park become insignificant and within the first half-hour you get to appreciate the vastness of Lake Wanaka as it stretches its way towards Makarora. Wanaka township itself becomes a cluster of dark marks alongside one small corner of the lake.

A crowded photo-stop at the 6.5km mark is a popular selfie spot, with uninterrupted views to Mt Alta, Mt Burke, and a hint of Lake Hawea. Way below Glendu Bay is dotted with tents and caravans. However, this is the silver medal compared to the gold medal vistas from the summit, and well worth the extra 1.5km. Here, the meandering Matukituki river valley stretches to the Southern Alps and mighty Mt Aspiring/Tititea itself. The road up to Treble Cone is a scar on the side of the Harris Mountains, and the Cardrona peaks are visible to the south.

Rewarding yourself at the end of the trip is easy. Wanaka township is minutes away, so a refreshing and cleansing swim in the lake followed by crossing the road to enjoy an equally refreshing and cleansing ale is just reward for a good five to six hours effort. Start early as this track gets quite warm.

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Thanks go to Macpac, Go Native, Keen and Jetboil.

Eric Skilling

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