After our hellish-yet-amazing experience at the Ben Lomond track, it took about three full days for our legs to fully recover from what we’d put them through. We waited patiently until they’d be up for another challenge. There was another hike in the area that had been on our list for a while: the track with the Instafamous views at Roys Peak, found in Wanaka.
Yup, you read that right. The views at Roys Peak currently are some of the most hyped ones on Instagram in all of New Zealand. We’d heard that it wasn’t uncommon for there to be actual queues at the top, to take one of those stunning pics.
And so, in the time leading up to the hike, we thought a lot about the best time to go. Roys Peak is extra beautiful during sunset or sunrise, with the warm colors of the sun highlighting the beautiful features of the landscape. But of course, we needed to take into account the fact that this would mean either walking up to or down from the peak in the dark. Ultimately, the odds of avoiding enormous crowds seemed to be best at sunset. And so, we began planning our hike.
Up the hill
Roys Peak is a 16 km walk, return via the same track, with a pretty steady climb to the top. It takes about 3 hours to reach the top, in which you gain 1.228 m in elevation. Of course, after our adventure at Ben Lomond, in which we wildly underestimated the steepness of the track, we’d done some better research before starting. We heard that Roys Peak should be less challenging, which luckily was the case. However, the track did start out with a pretty steep uphill climb, and our legs soon relived old trauma. (It was, after all, only 4 days ago that we’d put them through hell. 😉 ) Yet, overall, the track was indeed much more doable, because of a combination of better pathways, less non-stop and steep climbing and much more shade.
It took us about 3 hours to reach the famous Roys Peak lookout. Although super touristy spots can often lose their charm, this spot turned out to be an exception. All the Instagram craziness is totally justified; we were met by an incredibly stunning view as we walked to the lookout.
The way down
Ultimately, at around 8.30 pm, the other hikers started their descent and we were the only ones left on the peak. We took the opportunity to take a few more shots of the incredible views at Roys Peak and then quickly gathered our things to make our way down as well. At that point, we knew there wouldn’t be much time before the darkness would truly fall. We didn’t want to be the last ones on the track and started jogging our way downwards. Luckily, we caught up with the others in no-time.
After walking back for about half an hour, pretty much all of the daylight had made way for total darkness. There wasn’t a single light on the path itself; we saw only the lights of Wanaka, the city nearby. Luckily, we’d picked up some head torches from the store earlier that day. We probably looked totally ridiculous, but I could not have been happier with them. When turning them off for a second, we noticed how truly all-consuming the darkness was. I could not even see Frank, who was standing about a meter away from me.
Because of this total darkness, combined with a lack of clouds that night, the sky soon filled with hundreds and hundreds of stars. In the middle, the Milky Way was clearly visible. It was amazingly beautiful. After that, it didn’t take us long to reach our car and we could drive off to the campground, to give our legs some well-deserved rest.
Let me know if you have hiked Roys Peak! I’d love to hear if you thought the views lived up to your expectations.
Preparing to go up to see the amazing views at Roys Peak? Don’t forget to check out the DOC website for full information on the track.