Hiking to the top of Roy’s Peak by night!
Roy’s Peak is one of the most famous hike in New Zealand. Very accessible because it requires only one day of hike, you could think it’s quite easy to hike up.
BIG MISTAKE#1. Under estimating the hiking slope.
Ohhhh no it is not easy to hike up. Let me tell you about our hike to Roy’s Peak.
Well, I had seen tons of pictures, read tons of articles about Roy’s Peak but nothing could have prepared me for the hike.
We asked around for when the best moment to get to the top was and the common answer we got was: Sunrise.
I had friends who have done it a few days before us and they shot pictures in the middle of the night, starting to climb at 3AM. We decided to do the same. We might as well do it at the best time because we might not come back here ever again.
The only problem we had was that we didn’t know if we could sleep on the parking lot at the start of Roy’s Peak hike and the campground we were in was closing its doors during the night until 7AM. That’s when we had the best idea in the world. We saw some pictures of people on the top with tents… Yeah! You see where I am going to right? “Let’s sleep at the top!!!”
BIG MISTAKE #2. Leave the car park after 8PM.
Full of enthusiasm, we started the hike pretty late because Alexis and Louis went climbing with some friends and came back to town quite late. The weather forecast was not great for the evening, predicting some rain showers but we left well equipped.
The two people tent, the tree mattresses, the three sleeping bags, some water, the camera, the tripod, the headlights and our rain stuff.
We left the car park at 8:52pm, with the hope of getting at the top by midnight. The beginning was quite nice with a really nice view over Wanaka and the lake.
We could also see the rain from far back, lighten up by a beautiful rainbow curtain.
We walked and walked and walked with the sheep. The path is REALLY steep but the worse is that it never gets flat EVER before you reach the top.
Most of the hikes we have done so far were going up for a while and then down and then up and then flat… But this one. Oh boy. It’s only going up! No time to chill.
By half of the hike it was already very dark and the hike got even harder. Or maybe it was better for me because I couldn’t see the slopes coming up… Anyhow, we should have left at least one hour before.
With the dark coming up quite quickly we tried to not stop so much to not have to walk a lot with the headlights but unfortunately we left way to late for that.
We had no idea if we were anyway close to the top. Louis went ahead and found some people sleeping in tents. They told us that we were half an hour away from the top.
THEY COULD HAVE TOLD US IT WAS WINDY UP THERE!
Because we did the last half an hour to the top. We even took a shortcut by mistake that I won’t recommend to anyone. We couldn’t really see the path so we took the steepest way up along the edge of the cliff. Honestly, if I had seen it during the day, I wouldn’t have gone up that way!
Well, we finally made it around midnight and except the lights of Wanaka down, we couldn’t see anything and I was loosing my fingers. Damn, I wanted to take night pictures but I couldn’t feel my little fingers and there was way too much moonlight.
BIG MISTAKE#3. Sleep between the two antennas.
We decided pretty quickly on where to put the tent. We didn’t had that many options. There was by the little house where there was broken glass or in the middle between the antennas.
Well don’t put your tent between the two antennas…! What a stupid idea. We were right in the middle of the wind corridor and it was hell all night.
At least for Louis and I because we were on the extremities of the tent. Alexis didn’t feel anything as he was reversed to us and in the middle.
We put our alarms clocks to 5AM in order to see the sunrise (not a lot of sleep indeed).
Let me tell you something. It was totally worth it. When we opened the tent, we had the most beautiful view over the lake with the ray of light in between the clouds.
The wind was still strong and it was still cold but what a treat.
The guys packed up the tent as quickly as ever while I was already heading a bit down.
I don’t have any words for it. This was the best experience I had done so far. Walking in the mountain while the sun was rising over the valley and the lake.
Those who know me know I like images, photography, video, and especially the light show you can use for them. That was pretty much all I could have wished for. At first it was still quite cloudy, but as we were taking some pictures, the sky cleared up and everything became magical.
It was hard to decided to go down after that.
I guess the reward came at that moment, when we started heading down and we met tons of people going up, having as much trouble as we had the previous day and even more because of the sun and the temperature.
If you have the opportunity to see the sunrise there, please do it. Do like us and sleep on top or start at 3AM.
As we say in France: The game is worth the candle (and in a correct English it would be: It’s totally worth it).
TIPS & SUMMARY.
- The hike never stops to go up. It requires a lot of efforts
Leave at least three or four hours before sunset if you intend to sleep at the top
- Don’t go in the middle of the day without a hat and sunscreen! There is nowhere to hide from the sun during the hike
- Take a lot of water with you even if you do it during the night
- Don’t put your tent at the very top between the antennas. Put it a bit before next to the path (there is a small flat spot a few meters down the antennas) or just before the “Picture Point”
- Take a hot sleeping bag or hot clothes if you sleep up there (like socks and a beanie)