Roy’s Peak is located 5km outside the town of Wanaka towards Franz Josef along Mount Aspiring Road. A small carpark on the road side marks the beginning of the trail which leads to the summit. Don’t be tempted to park up overnight in this carpark though, it’s one of the hot-spots for fines in Wanaka. There is a DOC (Department of Conservation) site 10km further out of town where you can camp for free with peace of mind.
We decided to head up for sunrise one morning, so set off from the car park at 5.30am to get to the summit before sunrise at 7.45 (during May). We allowed 2 hours to get to the top based on what other guides had estimated, however it didn’t take quite that long. The path appeared to go on forever at one point and with daybreak fast approaching I was concerned we had mistimed the ascent, but luckily we reached the top before sunrise.
The well trodden path to the summit, which winds it way through grassy pastures, meandering upwards at a steady incline, is hard to miss. Even at 5.30am in the darkness of night with only the light of the moon (and a headtorch) to guide us, the path was unmissable. There are pathways which have been bushwhacked through the bracken taking a more direct route upwards.
There is the most famous, and consequently popular vantage point which offers the ideal photo opportunity. That said, there could be numerous other groups waiting their turn to get the perfect shot. Fortunately, given that we were the first ones up there that day, there was no messing about.
The true summit is some 200m higher and gives views over to the Remarkables ski area to the East. A pylon and an electrical hut stand proud at the top, offering some respite from the driving winds that come in from the West.
There’s no denying that Roy’s Peak is a must visit peak when in Wanaka. It’s not a particularly challenging or technical climb – more of a ‘tramp’ – but the views from the top, on a clear day, are truly spectacular.