Hiking Roys Peak in winter for sunrise.
16 kilometres return with an altitude gain of 1238 meters
Walking time 5-6 hours.
We decided to do the Roys Peak hike in the middle of winter for the sunrise view. It was cold but so worth it!
Roys Peak is a challenging yet very doable hike that rewards you with incredible views over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.
The decision was made to make the hike up in the dark so we would hopefully be at the summit for sunrise. This was done in the middle of winter so we were fully prepared with really warm clothing, gloves, thermals and so on. We left the parking lot at about 4 am and started the hike up. Most of the walk is fairly easy you have an altitude gain of 1238 meters spread out over 7.9 kilometres in total from the car park. However the last 259 meters of climbing from the Roys Peak lookout to the actual Roys Peak Summit is done in 1.5 kilometres making it quite steep and a little more strenuous than the rest of the climb.
When we left the car park the sky was perfectly clear with an ocean of stars spread above us as we climbed in the dark. We reached the Roys Peak look out after about an hour and a half where we stopped, took a few photos in the dark, had something to eat and drink and had a short rest. We had actually decided to take a sleeping bag up so we found a small little hole in the scrub out of the wind and wrapped the sleeping bag around us and just lay and watched the stars for 20 or 30 minutes.
After that we decided to make the hike to the summit to beat the sun. The sky was still perfectly clear at this point but as we started to hike a thick layer of cloud came in and I begun to worry a little that we would not be able to see anything. However after a short distance more we broke through the cloud and as first light hit as we neared the summit we realised we were completely surrounded by snow covered mountains on all sides and our view was unhindered for as far as we could possibly see!
Roys Peak Summit.
We reached the summit after about 3 and a-half hours. It was still mostly dark but within about 15 minutes the whole sky turned purple and the world started to light up. There was about 30-40 minutes when we were the only ones up there and we could not believe what was going on around us. We could not see Lake Wanaka which at first kind of upset me but as I looked around and took in the view I started to realise that there was probably not much going on below the cloud that could have added to the show the sky and mountains were putting on for us and as the pinnacle of the sun breached the cloud for the first time it gave light to the world in a way I had never really seen before.
Time was spent hanging around at the top of Roys Peak for a while basking in the sun, taking photos and enjoying the view before we decided to start making the hike down.
The trip down was considerably easier and we stopped again at the Roys Peak look out to get the ‘essential’ Roys Peak photo over Lake Wanaka. Unfortunately the cloud did not cooperate with us and it is just a see of blown out clouds. Never the less it was still an amazing view.
The hike up the ridge from Roys Peak lookout to the Roys Peak summit.
The descent continued and we broke through the cloud again and that was when we got our first view of almost the entire lake. Which was also an incredible sight.
All in all we took just less than 10 hours to do the total Roys Peak Hike. That was waiting around for light, taking photos, enjoying ourselves and taking about 30 minutes to enjoy the stars. The hike itself is not that intense but a decent level of fitness will for sure make it easier. We saw people breezing up there like it was nothing and others that were not even half way and thought they were going to die.
Roys Peak is a pretty famous one in New Zealand at the moment but it is so for a reason and it was still one of the most incredible views we enjoyed in the entire 7 weeks in New Zealand.
Other New Zealand hikes like the Tongariro Crossing here.
The first bit of light hitting the peaks on the southern Alps.
This is the Roys Peak lookout where you normally see the amazing photos of Lake Wanaka the clouds didn’t really allow that this day but it was still a pretty amazing view.