Roy's Peak hike is a huge draw for Wanaka, thanks in part to that insta-famous shot you get from the lower lookout (you know which one I'm talking about). The view from Roy's Peak is incredible - think 360 degrees of mountain ranges, a bird's eye view of Wanaka and the stunning Rob Roy Glacier off in the distance.
Yes, this hike is very busy. But regardless of what other visitors may say, it's so worth it.
I highly recommend going at sunrise, mostly to beat the crowds but also because this hike is much easier to do in the cool dark than in the blistering heat as there is absolutely zero shade on this track. Not only that, but you will be literally hiking under a blanket of stars which is just surreal.
If you're going at sunrise, you'll need to be starting between approximately 3:30-4:00am. Bring a flashlight and plenty of layers that you can change into at the top that aren't sweaty so you don't get bone chilled. The top is freezing in the dark since it's completely exposed to the elements so even in the summer, bring along an extra sweater, jacket, scarf and sweatpants to throw over top while you wait for the sun to rise!
ROY'S PEAK HIKE DETAILS
When: I recommend hiking in the summer as there will be snow on the trail during the winter months and avalanche terrain; the track is also closed October 1-November 10 for lambing each year as the track crosses private land.
Where: ten minutes outside of Wanaka
Difficulty: intermediate with steep sections
Length: 2 hours each way for 16km roundtrip plus plenty of time at the top for sunrise and photo-ops!
Directions: the trail starts just outside Wanaka at the Roy's Peak carpark and follows a very clear path that switches back up the mountain to a viewpoint. The trail is easy to follow even in the darkness. The insta-famous lookout is about 3/4 of the way up; stop here as you head back down after sunrise.
Bathrooms: yes, basic outhouses at the carpark and at the summit
Public Transit: no, however Yello cabs can be arranged in advance to pick you up at your accommodations at 3:00am for drop-off at the parking lot for $5/person. I highly recommend hitching a lift back to Wanaka once you're done as it's just a ten minute drive.