We arrived at Wanaka and the weather was sunny, with blue skies and the wind, relatively mild. We checked into our accommodation at the Ramada Resort, which was comfy and had a great location. We knew we were going to get some rain the following day so we had plenty of sunlight left in the day to attempt to challenge Roy’s Peak.
Now some words of advice! I am pretty fit and I did struggle – I train about 10 hours a week (volleyball and gym) and this is hands down the hardest hike I have done anywhere in the world. It is a 16km round trip. If you aren’t fit – give yourself the WHOLE DAY!! Start early in the morning, take frequent breaks walking up and back down. Take plenty of water, food and snacks to keep you hydrated and well energised. I strongly suggest you pack for a weather change as its elevation is 1500m and the weather can turn quite quickly. As the terrain walking up Roy’s Peak is quite varied with grass, rock and dirt – wear good hiking boots. These make a world of difference. I wouldn’t suggest wear flimsy trainers as the likelihood of rolling your ankle or slipping is pretty high.
The first hour walking up the peak was relatively easy going – but soon after we were hit with very strong headwinds. Pierre was carrying his camera gear (10kg +) and I had 3L of water, sandwiches, fruit and nut bars to keep us going. To say our legs were burning was an understatement. We kept joking that this was a great way to test the strength of any relationship HAHAHA I kept pushing Pierre with words of encouragement “We’ll stop at the next corner and take a breather.” Or “Let’s go another 100m and we can take some pictures.” Some of these words of encouragement were met with expletives or threats of divorce HAHAHA
About 7km in with an elevation of 1km the wind intensity increased and the rain started. This took us approx. 2.5 hours due to the head wind we were battling. We are always prepared for a change in weather with our beanies, gloves and wet weather gear. One of the most important rules in hiking is ensuring the safety of yourself and those around you. We waited 15-20 minutes to see if the weather was going clear up but the cloud cover was getting thicker and darker. We made the choice to turn back around and head home back to safety.
We discussed this option with a few other tourists who stopped to discuss whether it was worth it to continue. 2 younger females from the US chose to continue on – I urged them to come back with us as I didn’t think they were adequately clothed but alas, they chose to take on the remainder of the 1km that had an elevation rise of 500m – YES the remaining 1km is THAT intense.
Our return trip was much quicker HAHA we walked the 7km in just over an hour. A young tourist called Anna that we remember her by from her origins in Kentucky made her way down with us (we bumped into her 2 more times Queenstown and Milford Sound) and made for great conversation which detracted from the pain in my glutes LOL (that I felt for the next 3 days). As disappointed as we were, we still had the whole trip ahead of us that could have been spoiled with a selfish attempt to get to the peak. There will always be other times and safety is a priority when travelling.
If you’re after a good bite in Wanaka, we headed out to dinner at Francesca’s Italian Kitchen to replenish the carbs we lost challenging Roy’s Peak. We ordered our meals and were so impressed with the quality of service, portion sizing and the TASTE – delicious. I often dream of travelling back to places in the world just to eat the food again and this is no exception.
The following morning we walked to that Wanaka Tree and took some pictures of this iconic symbol that pretty much is Wanaka. Lots of tourists were there framing their pictures with professional equipment or using their selfie sticks to post to Instagram. We met a lovely old lady from Cromwell who was taking her black lab x cocker spaniel named Drake for a walk. The mischievous little pooch stole a man’s camera bag and ran around with it much to his horror.
As you do, we had a good chuckle at his expense but Pierre came to the rescue, caught Drake and removed the man’s camera bag. We had a great chat with the lady about the area, NZ and her charming dog Drake. She continued on her merry way and we stayed to take some more shots.
The rain hampered our efforts again and we decided to head out to Puzzling World to see what the fuss was about. We paid $20.00 each to experience the Illusion Rooms and the Maze. We were both pleasantly surprised that it was a fun little day out. I have to say my favourite parts were the tilted house, Ames room, the hall of following faces and the great maze. The Tilted House genuinely stuffed with my mind – my equilibrium was truly deceived and I struggled to pull myself off the wall. It took me a few minutes to reorient myself and even then it was still a struggle haha.
The great maze was so much fun! We walked over 5km in the maze trying to find our way out. We successfully got 3 out of the 4 towers before the rain hit us again 😛 We called it a day and headed back to our accommodation to dry off and warm up before dinner time.
Wanaka is such a lovely town – we drove around before dinner to see what else there was to do. There are so many lovely walking tracks around the lake lined with beautiful homes. If I ever had to move elsewhere in the world, I would gladly call Wanaka home as I felt a real sense of affinity. I have never really felt that anywhere else.
As we were both genuinely destroyed from yesterday’s walk we got home take away pizza from Francesca’s Italian Village pizza truck. Again, another delicious meal that cheap and most definitely hit the spot!
We settled for the night with pizza, movies and a good sleep before our drive to Queenstown.
If we’ve helped, inspired or made you consider Wanaka as part of your next trip – let us know! We’re always happy to hear your comments whether tips for us on the next trip or any suggestions! 🙂