Ultimate Guide to Roys Peak: The Best View in New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Roys Peak: The Best View in New Zealand

The view from Roys Peak is one you can’t miss when visiting New Zealand. Imagine: lake, mountains and endless views. This useful guide to Roys Peak will get you all set for an unforgettable experience!

– This article was updated in April 2018 – 

Practical Information

Roys Peak is 1,578 m high and gives you breathtaking views over Wanaka and its surroundings. You see most of Lake Wanaka (which is big), the surrounding peaks and Mount Aspiring National Park. I guarantee you this will be your new Facebook profile photo. Pose, take a snap and you have an amazing capture. Always be prepared when hiking in New Zealand. Below you can find my best tips and advice.

Guide to roys peak
New Facebook profile picture?

Distance: 16km return

Elevation: 1,228 meters

Time: 5-6hours return, on a wide and well-maintained track

Getting there: The track starts at the Roys Peak Track carpark, 6 km from Wanaka town on the Mt Aspiring Road. Tip: come early as the carpark fills up quickly.

What to wear: Layered clothing is the keyword here! When hiking up you’ll get sweaty, so make sure you have some warm clothes left for when you’re at the top. It can also get quite windy up high, so take a windproof jacket to protect you.

Weather: ALWAYS check the weather before hiking up. New Zealand weather conditions can change quickly, and you don’t want to get stuck up there with 100km/h winds or hail. Metvuw.co.nz is a great site to check the weather. You can also always pop your head in the local DOC-office and ask for the weather conditions there.

Notes: The track is closed from 1 October to 10 November for lambing. Don’t hike then, as you’ll disturb the lambs (and probably chase them away into their deaths). Also, in winter you will need to carry alpine equipment such as an ice axe and crampons. If you don’t know what this is, don’t go up in winter. Read more about Roys Peak on the DOC website.

As you can see, the track is quite steep, so be well-rested and prepared for a good walk up. Take enough water with you, as there is no water on the way or at the top.

Walking Roys Peak

Before I go on with some extra tips, would you like to see a video of a sunrise hike to Roys Peak?

You’re in luck! One early morning at 3am I took my friends and my camera up Roys Peak. Here you have a first hand experience of how awesome this hike is!

 Ok, so you got all the info you need to get there. Now, are you ready for some extra tips?

For me the view up there, that’s New Zealand. When you haven’t been to New Zealand yet and you imagine how it looks like, well, this is it! Even though the walk isn’t the most inspiring (you seriously just keep zigzagging up), it still is one of the best views in New Zealand. So please do go up there!

You don’t have to be a good hiker to get up the mountain, you just have to keep going up, step by step, for about 3 hours. I’m not a big fan of walking uphill, but every time I reach the top I know why it is worth the while!

Photo Viewpoints

I’ll just be honest, the entire way up and down is beautiful, as you get first class views on Lake Wanaka, its islands and Mt. Aspiring National Park. But there are 2 locations where a photo will look just that tiny bit better.

Location 1: the ledge

It looks like a scene from a movie, a beautiful ledge disappearing into the lake. Place one of your friends (or yourself) on the ledge while you stay at the center of the mountain and shoot! Try to go a little bit higher, as it will make the proportions nicer and the model will be framed by the water.

Location 2: the summit

After a few hours walking up you might get tempted to stop at the ledge and to not go all the way to the summit. I recommend you to go anyway! Take photo and snack break at the ledge, and then hike about 30minutes more to Mount Roys’ summit.

There’s no long ridge, but you’ll get an even more panoramic view, like this:

Guide to Roys Peak
I was the model this time. Pic by Nico Babot

Spice it up

Before you go you should know that Roys Peak is extremely popular. There will be loads of tourists hiking up the mountain. Don’t let that scare you away though. I don’t like the masses either, but Roys Peak is so incredibly beautiful that you really should go.

I’ve been up 4 times up Roys Peak and I try every time to have a different experience and to escape the mass of people.

1. Go for sunrise

sunrise roys peak track
First class view at sunrise

Waking up at 3am isn’t easy, but when you’re on top of Roys Peak it all makes it worth it. The advantage of going so early is that you’ll get a beautiful sunrise with soft colours AND there will hardly be any other people – because who likes to start hiking at 3am, right? Next to our own little group there were only 4 other people. It is very rare experiencing Roys Peak in this serenity.

Plan: catching the sunrise on the top. Take your head torch, breakfast, warm clothes for at the top and just start walking. You’ll feel very awake when you reach the top. The cold will help you with that too (translate: it was freakinnnn cold when I walked up at sunrise).

We parked ourselves and our tripods at the first viewpoint. It is right at the long ledge, where you can walk on, and you disappear in the scenery. We were able to take some morning shots and when the sun appeared, the light was just amazing (and we could finally warm up again!).

sunrise roys peak
Game of silhouettes
Guide to Roys Peak
There she is!
Walking Roys Peak
The early crew!

And then we started craving a coffee and a nap. Time to walk down, and take in the stunning views. You almost feel like you’re walking in a painting.

2. Go for sunset

Lucky for you most tourists leave before it is too dark to go down. But if you are prepared, you can easily stay until it’s dark. Just be smart, take your head torch with you and stay until sunset! Always take enough warm clothes, as your body temperature cools down quickly when standing still.

Roys peak NZ


Tip: don’t be afraid of the cows and sheep in the dark. They won’t bite, but do keep your eyes open so you don’t get a scare!

3. Go in winter

It’s more fun in the snow, there are less tourists and the view is EVEN better.The mountains around you will be covered with a layer of snow, which is pretty impressive to see.

In winter you need to be extra careful, as conditions can be harsher than in summer. There might be a meter of snow or it might be very icy. Always check the weather before you head up. Especially in winter I recommend going to the DOC-office to inform about the weather conditions. If it’s icy, you might need crampons and an ice axe – so know what you’re doing! In case you’re wondering if you can hike Roys Peak in the rain: yes, you can. But I wouldn’t recommend it, because you won’t have a nice view. With snow on the other hand, you get a fairytale land.

Roys peak NZ

One day I wanted some cool photos for this blog and this was the spot to go. Luckily I had my talented partner in crime with me, who happily took pictures of me and the balloons in the freezing cold! And ps: no I didn’t hike up in these clothes and shoes – I took them in my bag with me. Make sure you are properly dressed for hiking up!

Roys Peak Wanaka
Having fun up there! – © Nico Babot

So that’s Roys Peak! Lots of sweat, fun and unforgettable memories. You won’t regret hiking up there. The view will take your breath away. If you like my photos, wait until you get up there yourself!

Other walks near Roys Peak

Besides Roys Peak there are also a lot of other must-do walks in Wanaka. If Roys Peak is too busy, I’d recommend to let it be and hike up Isthmus Peak. It is a great plan B and offers pretty cool views with less people around. Roys Glacier is another one (very popular) and Diamand Lake is a great option if you feel a bit lazy, but still want to soak in some beautiful Wanaka views.

Roys Peak Wanaka accommodation

So, you are ready and excited to hike up Roys Peak?! Great! I also highly recommend staying a few days in Wanaka. There isn’t just Roys Peak to explore, there is so much more. Book yourself a room and discover this awesome area.


Another option is Airbnb. It’s always more special to stay with locals, and there are lots of holiday houses and rooms to choose from! Have a look here: Wanaka Airbnb.

Got yourself all excited about visiting New Zealand? You should! A holiday in New Zealand is one like you’ve never had before. Most people visit the country in summer,  but I recommend to consider visiting in spring. In this article I explain you why spring is an interesting period to visit: visit New Zealand in spring. But I promise you: regardless of when you visit New Zealand, you’ll have a blast!

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Ultimate Guide to Roys Peak, New Zealand

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Are you excited to go? Do you already have a trip to Roys Peak planned?

25 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Roys Peak: The Best View in New Zealand

  1. I found your article on the first page of google, just in the middle of the classic trip advisor and 100pureNZ search results. I am happy I went for yours. The photo location advise is a great idea!

  2. This looks like such a gorgeous hike – especially at sunrise! Roy’s Peak is definitely going on my list for whenever I finally make it out to NZ 🙂

  3. What an amazing views!!! Nice that you had the chance to climb the Roys Peak multiple times, so you could enjoy the different seasons. I think I would prefer to hike when there is snow, so less people, and more beautiful! Thanks for sharing all the useful tips!

    1. Yes, I’ve been very lucky that I was able to hike up in different seasons. Winter definitely ads something special to it! I agree with you that it is more beautiful, looks a bit like a fairytale. Don’t forget to dress very warm though 🙂

  4. What’s not to love about Wanaka hey! I have a friend that lives in Wanaka so have had the opportunity to visit there a couple of times. So close to Queenstown but still a destination in its own right. I love the drive from Christchurch to Wanaka, the scenery is out of this world. Oh and don’t forget the most photogenic tree in the world!

    1. Lucky you! It is indeed a cool little place. Definitely a destination in its own and so different than Queenstown. But almost everywhere you go in NZ it is beautiful 🙂

  5. Hi! Heading down to Wanaka to climb Roys peak this weekend. We really would love to do a sunrise hike but wondering if you think that’d be safe in winter for several fit but not necessarily experienced hikers. Would love to know your thoughts thank you!

    1. Hi Jenny, Cool you’re doing Roys Peak! It is not a particularly difficult hike, but you definitely need to check the snow conditions, as it might get tricky/dangerous if there is a lot of snow. Good idea to do the sunrise hike in winter, as sunrise is way later than in summer
      . You can sleep a few hours longer than I did 🙂 Have fun!

  6. Amazing pictures and post! I’m planning on going next week – I was wondering what time of the day you would recommend going up for this time of year? Will it be too foggy for sunrise or sunset? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Haylee, awesome that you’ll be checking out Roys Peak. You won’t regret it! I recommend keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and then decide which day would be best to walk up. If I were you I would go for sunrise or sunset, the light will be the best, and there will be less people around. When I did the hike for sunrise and sunset it was never foggy (as you can see in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTxvPtgv9fI). Have fun!

    1. Hi Marianne, awesome you’ll be doing Roys Peak! There might still be snow on the top, but I can’t promise that for sure. What is good though, is that the surrounding mountains will still have snow (as they are higher than Roys), so your view should be pretty good 🙂 Enjoy it and let me know how it went!

  7. Roy’s Peak has been on my bucket list forever! I finally booked my tickets to NZ today and to my utter dismay found out that the track is closed in Oct! Is there any way to climb up at all or do they strictly shut the track??

  8. Wow, these are some of the most amazing photos. I must admit that New Zealand has been on my bucket list for a long time but I hadn’t even heard of this mountain. Now, seeing these photos, even more so. Looks absolutely breath taking.

    1. Thanks Miriam! Roys Peak is indeed not as famous as for example the Tongariro Crossing or Mount Cook; but it is so worth it. It doesn’t take a lot of time out of your schedule and you have a mind blowing view. I think you should visit New Zealand 🙂

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