roys peak wanaka
New Zealand

Why Roys Peak hike in Wanaka is a waste of your time

Let me first explain that I am not very often disappointed in a hike. In fact, there are only a few walks in the world that I have not enjoyed. The Roys Peak walk in Wanaka is one of them. This overhyped and extremely boring hike I did during my last New Zealand trip when I spent three months hiking all over the country. As I had seen many pictures of Roys Peak on Instagram, I was very curious, but the hike was not nearly as spectacular as I imagined it to be.

Hike Roys Peak Wanaka: a desillusion in New Zealand

Generally I’m not a fan of blogging about things that disappoint me, but do I consider it my job to be honest with my readers. The phenomenal images of the Roys Peak Track that are posted by fellow bloggers and on Instagram does not show reality. This article does.
New Zealand has been and remains my favorite travel destination for years (I traveled there three times and will leave for the fourth time later this year) and I have nothing but a big passion for sharing its beauty. That’s why I hope you read this article and consider whether you want to participate in the hype called Roys Peak or just decide to go elsewhere instead.
Roys Peak hike Wanaka

Why Roys Peak New Zealand is a waste of your time

First of all, the trail is boring to say the least. Very boring. You walk fairly steeply up on a wide and zigzag road for some eight kilometers. After about seven kilometers you will come to the well-known viewing point that you see on each photo, but there is always an enormous long line waiting to take photos. When I did the Roys Peak hike, there were about ten people waiting, but I have heard others say that they sometimes had to wait an hour for them to take a photo. ONE HOUR!!!
When I saw the waiting line, I decided to walk straight onwards to the top. Just before the last corner you can take a shortcut almost straight up. At first I did not realize that this was not the official trail (and therefore I feel quite guilty that I participated in the destruction of nature), but this immediately indicates my next point: the path is used by people who have no idea how vulnerable nature is. Everywhere shortcuts are made, people are leave their garbage and worse: their human waste. I was disgusted by some items left behind right next to the trail.
roys peak wanaka

Let’s be honest about Roys Peak Track Wanaka

To be honest, I had some quite amazing views from the top. But to walk up for three hours for just this? No, it wasn’t worth it. Especially since you have to go down the same boring trail again. Accompanied by yet another ton backpackers, equipped with beat boxes, beer and flip flops. I’m not kidding you, I’ve seen it all!
As you may understand by now, I’m not a fan of the Roys Peak hike. When my friend Marieke came to New Zealand to see a part of the South Island with me, we also walked the Rob Roy Glacier walk, which is an hour’s drive outside of Wanaka right inside Mount Aspiring National Park. This hike is so much nicer, way less crowded and therefore much more worthwhile than the Roys Peak track.
Note that the Rob Roy Glacier track is currently closed due to erosion. Please visit the DOC website for more information
roys peak wanaka

Getting from Wanaka to Roys Peak

Do you still want to hike Roys Peak in Wanaka? Then you can go here by taxi or by car, the trailhead is a few kilometers outside of Wanaka, at Glendhu Bay. Because many backpackers visit Wanaka by bus, there are many people who ask for a ride and also offer it. I myself have taken a number of English girls back to the village on the way back. If you still have energy after 16 kilometers, you can of course simply walk back to the village, the distance is about 7 kilometers.

Roys Peak difficulty

Technically it’s an easy walk. The path is wide and easily accessible. However, it is steep, the total rise is approximately 1,250 meters. I walked to the top in three hours, so I climbed around 400 meters per hour. The trail was simple, but my calves occasionally burned. If you are an untrained hiker, you are likely to get quite exhausted. I have seen a couple of Dutch guys crying halfway, mentioning “no more of this sh*t for me”. That kind of does indicate the type of hiker that does the Roys Peak hike. Anyway, I went up relatively smoothly in about three hours and descended again in an hour and a half. In fact, just a few people walked to the final top, where the cover photo of this article was taken. Take advantage of it and skip the line *wink*
roys peak wanaka

Roys Peak wandeling

Where to stay in Wanaka

I’ve visited Wanaka plenty of times and can recommend some nice accommodations when you’re on a bit of a budget. During my most recent trip I stayed one night at Mountain View Backpackers (great and cosy!). If you want to be where the buzz is then you may opt to stay in BASE Wanaka although it wasn’t my favorite to be honest.
If you are camping, then you can best stay at Top 10 Wanaka which is near town. If you’re looking for a somewhat secluded location, then Lake Outlet is a great option, but it’s a bit further away from it all.
Bookings are a must for Wanaka. I had a hard time finding a bed when I was solo traveling and I tried booking a few days ahead. You can check all Wanaka accommodation options here.

Roys Peak or Rob Roy Glacier

As I mentioned in the title, the walk to Roys Peak is a waste of time in my opinion. The view from the top is beautiful, but the trail is not very exciting. And way too crowded. If you really want to do a nice hike near Wanaka, then I recommend you Rob Roy Glacier. You can read all about it in this article about the Rob Roy Glacier and check the video that’s played in this blog. As this hike is harder to reach, there are a lot less people and especially: serious hikers who respect the nature of New Zealand.


Conclusion & disclaimer

Hopefully I didn’t scare you too much with this article, but I just wanted to be honest about Roys Peak hike that I think is being ruined by the huge hordes of tourists. I therefore hope that you will choose a different, lesser known hike near Wanaka and decide to let the peace return at Roys Peak.
Also read: the best hikes in New Zealand!
This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase or make a reservation through one of these links, I will receive a small commission without extra costs for you!


  • Natali

    The pictures are still amazing despite what you write! I wonder when have you done this track? I’m curious if the line of 10 people was in low season than what to expect in high?

  • Bea

    Thanks for this article! I’m currently planning a trip to NZ with lots of hiking and found great ideas on your blog – including Roys Peak that I think we’ll skip. 🙂

  • Greg McMehen

    I agree, the hike itself was a slog. We did it in August when it was still quite snowy at both the viewpoint and the top, but in spite of the slog I still think it was worth it. We only had to wait a few minutes to take our photos, and the snow really added some beauty to the experience at the top. A storm was blowing in on the back side of the mountain, and it made for amazingly different views on the two sides. I can totally respect your opinion though that there is likely a better way to spend time on the south island…for example, we could have added a day to our Milford Sound experience to do some of the truly spectacular hikes around there!

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