Walk along the Kawaru River

If you’re looking for a leisurely afternoon walk, a middle earth fan whose not up to white water rafting, or simply rained out of a white water trip like we were, fear not as I have a solution for you. Enter the Kawaru River pathway (aka Gibbston River Trail) which starts with views of people jumping off a bridge, passes through more than a couple wineries, and stops along several scenic picnic spots on the river rim. It’s a great shorter walk/ hike to get outside and admire the Kawaru river… without partaking in the rough house activity of rafting it.

Where to park for the Kawaru River trail:

Google maps AJ Hackett Bungy Kawarau Bungy Centre and park in the same lot as the bungy bridge.

The parking lot is just 20 minutes outside of Queenstown along hwy 6 (toward Wanaka). The turn off for the parking lot will be on your left just after passing over the kawaru river bridge. (~23 km along hwy 6)

Trail info:

Distance: 2.25 miles/ 3.6 km 1 way. Go as long as you like though

Difficulty: Easy, little to no hills

Time: Allow at least 1.5 hours

Kawaru River Trail Directions:

Once you park, go ahead and wander down to check out any jumpers from the bridge as they leap from the historic suspension bridge, get caught up by their ankles on the bungy, and rafted back to the river side. Sign yourself up if you’re feeling daring and make use of the facilities around the bungy center.

The Gibbston River trail goes both ways along the Kawaru river actually crossing over the historic suspension bridge- and both directions make for a scenic walk. HOWEVER if you want the specific views in this post and/ or Lord of the Rings filming locations, you’ll want to skip crossing the bridge and actually walk up the parking lot from where you parked, to the East side where you’ll see a drive way for the Winehouse and then signs for the Gibbston River Trail.

The start of the trail

At first the trail is pretty close to the road but after a few minutes, it will turn off and cut down to the river’s rim. There it will meander along occasionally cutting away from the river before returning back to it. There’s a couple wineries you can stop at if interested, or even better do the wine & bike tour to see more of the river trail and more of the wines. Otherwise you’ll come across the first awesome view point (probably the best one) about 1 mile/1.7km in. There’s even a bench to mark the spot of a great view.

It was standing here that we were definitely able to see the scene at the end of the Fellowship where the party is rowing down the river Anduin and passes between the giant Argonath statues. (We were still disappointed as to not be able to raft ourselves down through the narrow canyon)

You can continue on for more views of the narrow river canyon with the next best view point being about mile 1.93/3km. Make sure to take the left trail junction (the one that says for advanced bikers only) to get to this view point. This section of trail is definitely the most interesting with a few little bridges here and there, loads of bunnies hopping about, and being some of the closest to the cliffs down to the river.

You can follow this trail for as long as you like, although we turned around once the canyon opened up about 2.25 miles into the trail. Overall it’s a flat easy trail with nice river and canyon views. We didn’t get a change to check out any of the wineries, but if I went back to Queenstown I’d definitely consider a biking trip down this river trail to see more of it and almost certainly be re-booking myself for the Kawaru white water rafting tour.

Unless you have a ride sorted out for getting back, return on the trail from whence you came to the bungy bridge carpark.

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Guide to Wanaka

Wanaka is like the little sister of nearby Queenstown- and I mean that in the best way. It offers a stunning lake that is in a parallel valley to Queenstown’s lake, tons of brilliant hiking, adventure sports, and great food- only it’s a quarter of the size. It’s easily walkable around the whole town and makes for a little more relaxing of a vacation compared to the larger city of Queenstown. We had originally only planned 1 day in Wanaka but got 3 due to extreme weather killing our plans in Mount Cook National Park. Needless to say, our 3 days there were a great blend of relaxing and adventuring and a nice way to take a break after 10 days on the move.

Top things to do in Wanaka:

Hike to Roys Peak

An iconic must-do hike for the adventure enthusiast visiting New Zealand’s South Island- Roys Peak is a fantastic but CHALLENGING hike. Wanaka is an excellent base as this trail is very popular in fine weather and you’ll want to hit the trail first thing to beat the crowds and the heat of the day. Read more about the hike here.

Hike to Rocky Mountain

The moderate version of Roys Peak with a quarter of the crowds- a hike to Rocky Mountain is a worthy hike for families or folks who don’t feel like climbing 4,000+ feet in under 5 miles. Instead this easier version still takes you too a great vista over Lake Wanaka and includes the bonus small Diamond Lakes as you meander along. It climbs a lot less elevation but it does still have a bit of a climb so hikers be prepared.

Check out a movie at Cinema Paradiso

While going to a movie is not usually at the top of my list when travelling internationally, I’m actually super stoked that we got to experience this theater. We visited on an incredibly rainy day when being outside was impossible and the warm cozy interior of Cinema Paradiso was the perfect escape. They have 2 main theater rooms and the seating is made up of couches and believe it or not- CARS. They’ve got a full service café, beers, and your standard movie fare to dine on during your visit. The best snack comes during the intermission (yes even only 90 minute films have one) when they have fresh baked cookies for purchase at around 3NZD. I also loved the intermission for my always necessary bathroom break.

*Tip: Call ahead to set aside tickets for your party and show up 20-30 minutes before your film to have the best chance of great seating.

Visit the Mount Aspiring Visitor Center

Yet another unexpected spot that we took refuge in from the never ending rain on our visit to Wanaka- the Visitor Center has a lot of fun information on the area. They have displays on the native wildlife and a cool exhibit of the discovery and exploration of climbing routes on Mount Aspiring. One of the most interesting exhibits to us was the walk that detailed how the New Zealand red deer were introduced, over populated, and then how they managed to get the population back under control. (They would literally capture deer from helicopters with specially designed net guns)

exhibits at the visitor center

I’d also recommend a visit here to plan your hikes and learn about the various tracks. For example we’d thought about venturing out in the rain on some more shorter hikes but learned almost everything near Wanaka was closed due to mud and flooding conditions.

Take a Wine Tour

Wanaka sits in the Central Otago region which is best known for 2 things- cycling and wine. It’s rolling dry hills, sunny weather, and slight alpine fields make for an excellent wine growing envinornment. The most fickle of grapes- Pinot Noir even excels here. If you are a wine connousieur, a wine tour shouldn’t be missed if visiting this region and there’s plenty of fantastic tours to choose from. Pick a tour that takes you to only boutique wineries not open to the general public, or goes by a more try all approach. There’s also a fantastic tour that combines Maori culture and wine – we met the creator of that tour who was fantastic.

My recommendations:

Boutique Wine Tour – Wanaka Wine Tours Reservations

Wanahaka Wine Tour

Where to stay in Wanaka:

Luxury: Lakeview Vista Appartment from $383/night

A stunning apartment capable of sleeping 8 people- each room boasts lakeside views and the deck is a dream sunset spot.

Glen Dene Station

A little outside town, this private cabin retreat has its own private walking trails and swimming beach and comes with a great breakfast.

Moderate: Cabin right in town from $64/night

*We stayed here one night. This was a small comfortable space with a great king size bed. It’s a small space but all the features are upgraded and clean. The key note here is it is RIGHT downtown walk-able to the lake front and restaurants within 5 minutes.

Cabbage Tree Cottage from $60/night

*We stayed here 2 nights. This small cabin is SO cozy and comfortable and just 10 minutes outside Wanaka. It generally runs cheaper even in the high tourist season which also really puts it on the map. It has all the kitchen gadgets for making breakfast and sandwiches.

Budget: YHA Wanaka from $25 /bed/night

When it comes to the hostel dorms in NZ, YHA continues to hold the highest rating in just about every city. If you’re a solo traveler on a budget, give them a try.

Where to eat in Wanaka:

Moderate/ Expensive:

Urban Grind– This place had a very hip atmosphere with easy ordering and delicious food. It’s great for pizza and drinks in the evening, or brekie/ lattes in the morning.

Speights Ale House– The original beer brewed in NZ makes this ale house a classic and if you’re craving pub fare- it’s a great spot to eat.

Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen– Lake front and a high rating- if you’re wanting to try local fare, check this place out.

Budget friendly:

Wanaka was heavily flooded while we were visiting but these budget spots below would be fantastic for picnics on the lake

Dominos– I know I know, not very adventurous but for only $6NZD ($3.50!) for a large FAST pizza, after a day out hiking in the rain, this was an easy choice for us.

The Doughbin Bakery– The meat/savory pies were amazing here and it’s right on the lake front. Grab some pies and pastries for dessert and have yourself a picnic in the park.

Erik’s Fish and Chips – Nothing fussy fish and chips stand on the main road through town. 

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Guide to Te Anau

You don’t have to be planning an epic multi day walk into the backcountry of Fjordland National Park to plan some time in Te Anau! In fact, while it is the gateway to some amazing places, it’s a great little town to explore in its own right! Consider this: You can take cheap ferry cruises along Te Anau lake, see glow worm caves (great if you aren’t going to the North Island), check out amazing birds in a free sanctuary, learn about the geological and cultural history of Fjordland National Park, AND have great access to nearby Milford Sound without paying the premium of staying in Milford Sound Lodge.

Top things to do in Te Anau:

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

Experience the twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall topped off with the incredible bio-luminescent world of glow worm lights. The experience lasts just over 2 hours beginning with a sight seeing cruise across Te Anau lake, a walk through underground tunnels, and ending with the capstone of floating in an underground grotto under a canopy of glow worm “stars” before heading back to the light of above ground. The tours are kept to small groups (with a max of 14 people) and cost around 103 NZD ($67) per person. I would consider this a MUST do tour unless you plan on visiting Waitomo on the North Island. *Make advanced reservations here to ensure availability on your date.

Te Anau Bird Sactuary

Rain or shine, this is a great little nature park to walk around hosting several exotic and even endangered species of birds. We saw owls, parrots, parakeets, and the most incredible of all: the almost extinct Takahē, a flightless bird native to only NZ. When we were there, they had a recently hatched Takahē chick as well. It’s an easy place to walk around in 15 minutes or so depending on how long you admire the birds and get to know their personalities. If possible, try to go close to feeding times at 9:30 AM or 4:30 PM. Guided tours are also possible to be arranged through the Fjordland NP Visitor Center.

Directions: It’s an easy 10 minute walk along Te Anau Lakeshore from the Fjordland NP Visitor Center, or an easy 3 minute drive.

Hours: Dawn- Dusk

Cost: Free, but a 1-2 gold coin donations are appreciated

Te Anau lakeside Walk

There’s a trail that extends all around lake Te Anau to the start of the great walks like the Kepler Track. Walk as little or as much as you want to and if you have a full day but couldn’t get reservations for any of the overnight huts- the Luxmore hut is an excellent full day hike beginning in Te Anau. 

Fjordland National Park Visitor Center

A great stop that can be short or long depending on the weather. They had some great exhibits on the discovery and settling of Fjordland National park as well as exhibits on the wildlife that can be found throughout New Zealand.

Fjordland Cinema

Can’t afford a helicopter tour of Fjordland national park? Don’t sweat it! Playing every hour at Fjordland cinema is a documentary Birdseye view in IMAX of Fjordland National Park. Check with your hotel for a discounted ticket.

A Great Walk!

With 3 world famous multi-day treks in the area to choose from, the area is the perfect launch point. Make sure to check the reservation systems for these great walks as the huts book out very quickly when dates are released.

Milford Sound

Read my post specifically for driving the Milford Sound road and taking a Milford Sound Cruise. If there’s anything you do on the South Island, make sure this place is top of the list. From Te Anau, it is a 1.5-2 hours drive to Milford Sound without additional stops for hikes and short walks. Plan your time accordingly.

Where to stay in Te Anau:

Luxury: Fjordland Lakeview Motel & Apartments $265

For a room with a view on the lake, full studio, and adults only retreat- the Fjordland Lakeview is the highest rated hotel in Te Anau and as great amenities.

Midrange: Te Anau lakefront backpackers private rooms 123 NZD/ $80

*Where we stayed

We had a triple room with kitchenette and private bathroom. We loved staying here as the beds were comfortable and came with really soft blankets, the kitchenette in our room was helpful, and it was nice having a private bathroom. Everything was clean and comfortable and best of all- this hotel IS lakefront so walking around the lake, taking a boat tour, and checking out the visitor center are all an easy 5 minute walk away. 

Budget: Te Anau lakefront backpackers/ YHA Te Anau $24 pp

The cheapest options are to book a dorm bed here for $24/bed in a 6 bed mixed room. Both hostels are well rated and in convenient locations.

Where to eat in Te Anau:

The Fat Duck- For fancier fare, we really enjoyed eating at the Fat Duck. They have a nice range of menus for both meals and drinks. Their grilled lamb salad was particularly good.

Redcliff Restaurant &Bar – if you’re in the mood for a good burger or great pasta- this place was also delicious.

See my related articles for nearby action:

Complete Guide to Milford Sound

Complete Guide to Queenstown

Complete Guide to Wanaka

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Lake Tekapo- Worth they hype?

Absolutely, it is all the hype. A lot of the posts on Instagram in the spring/ early summer in New Zealand come from Lake Tekapo and its huge turquoise lake with lake shores bursting with purple flowers. It’s a photo shoot mecca for photographers and insta- stars alike, and what’s more- it’s an EASY stop on any road trip from Queenstown to Christchurch or vice versa as it is right in the middle of the 2 on the main highway.

About Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is the 2nd largest of 3 parallel lakes in the Mackenzie Basin. It’s stunning milky-turquoise color comes from fine rock-flour suspended in the water. The water is glacier fed from the Southern Alps. Around the lake you’ll find the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd which was built in 1935 for pioneer families and has windows framing the perfect view of mountain and lake.

Lake Tekapo is also located in a UNESCO Dark Sky reserve making it a fantastic spot for stargazing the southern sky. If you’re really into star peeping you can also visit the nearby Mount John Observatory where on a clear night- you have a decent chance of experiencing the southern lights.

Things to do at Lake Tekapo

  1. Frolic in the flowers
  2. Tekapo Hot Springs
  3. Tour the Mount John Observatory
  4. 4WD or horseback riding high country tours
  5. Check out Lake Pukaki and nearby Mount Cook National Park

Lake Tekapo flowers season

While these special purple flowers can bloom all spring and summer long in NZ, around Lake Tekapo their peak season is end of November through late December.

Our experience at Lake Tekapo

While we didn’t plan much time in the area, it was definitely on my must-stop list. We pulled in around noon and parked in the easy free- grass lots alongside the highway. From there you just cross the road and pick a path down to the lakeshore.

We weren’t there on a very sunny day unfortunately for photos, but I think it may have kept the crowds down somewhat and it was easy to wander among the flowers, get great photos, and just enjoy being by the lake. With purple being one of my favorite colors, I admit to being more than a little obsessed with all the flowers, and even Braden enjoyed using portrait mode on our new google pixels to photograph the beauties. After hanging out at the lake about an hour, we grabbed some lunch in Tekapo at the cheapest place we could find before hitting the road to continue to Mount Cook National Park.

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Guide to Arthur’s Pass National Park

Arthur’s Pass is a small, but fantastic National Park along the West Coast road on the South Island in New Zealand. In only 2 hours from Christchurch you can find yourself surrounded by beautiful talus sloped peaks, bunches of wild yellow flowers, and wide braided rivers. There’s several short but worthy day hikes in the region and it’s a fascinating area to drive through and picture the historic highway/ railway that ran through it connecting the 2 different sides of the South Island. While hiking in the area be sure to keep an eye out for kea, the only alpine parrot in the world, that live in the mountains here.

Where to hike:

The Devils Punchbowl Waterfall

Distance: 2 km, time: 1 hour

A short and sweet hike that leads to one of New Zealand’s most spectacular waterfalls. It’s an easy-moderate trail with wooden steps, bridges, and beautiful beech forest. See my post here for more details.

Bealey Spur Track

Distance: 6 km, time: 4hours RT

Best done in fine weather, this track has beautiful views of beech forest, grasslands and subalpine scrub, and the nearby braided river. The most climatic part of this hike is at a cliff with dramatic views down on Bruce Stream. We were unfortunately rained out of this longer hike but if I was ever back in the area, it would be near the top of my list.

Castle Hill

Also known as Kura Tāwhiti Conservation Area, castle hill is an easy stop along the West Coast road from Christchurch. Its interesting landscape of limestone rock eroded into massive boulders makes for a photographer’s dream scale (tiny humans). It’s also great for comparing to film spots as nearby LOTR scenes were filmed as well as the Chronicles of Narnia. There’s no real track here so choose your track- make your own- hike, climb, be free.

Avalanche Peak

Distance: 3 miles/ 5km RT, Elevation: 3600 feet/ 1100 m, Time: 6-8 hours

Yet another hike that we lost to foul weather on our trip, Avalanche peak gives you astounding views of Arthur’s Pass as a whole- the surrounding peaks, the rivers- and you view it all from the top. It also gives you almost a sure fire meeting with Kea, but the drawbacks are this is a VERY challenging hike with steep exposed scrambles and should only be attempted by very experienced hikers.

Where to stay:

Luxury: The Wildnerness Lodge at Arthur’s Pass- from $290

Stunning mountain view rooms and the rate includes both dinner and full breakfast. The rate also includes free activities around the farm such as guided walks on the property and in depth explanation of sheep farming in New Zealand.

Midrange & Budget: YHA Arthur’s Pass– from $37/ bed in a dorm or $98 for a private double

The YHA hostels never fail around New Zealand and they provide a nice range for budgets. They also usually have full facilities for cooking and hanging around making for a fun atmosphere and cheaper eating budget.

Where we stayed: Mount Somers hut. $72 We opted to get a jump on our next day’s serious driving by staying in Mount Somers instead of Arthur’s Pass. It was so much cheaper and was a great little private hut for just the 2 of us. The bonus was the washing machine as well!

Where to eat in Arthur’s Pass:

Your options are limited in Arthur’s Pass National Park for food with only 2-3 cafes that mostly serve takeaways and all day breakfast. While the cost is reasonable for the demand in the area, I’d recommend stopping in at a grocery store in Christchurch before beginning your road trip out west. We bought sandwich supplies and made out own to save costs here but we couldn’t resist a coffee in the Wobbly Kea Café.

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This has to be one of the most underrated parts of the south island- looking through guide books, blog posts, itineraries- nobody even hinted that this location was a thing. But us Middle Earth fans? We know it’s a thing- so I give you a guide to Mount Sunday or in LOTR lore Edoras.

Driving to Mount Sunday

The road out to Mount Sunday is only around 2.5 hours from Christchurch but it is a bit of a drive- and a decently long haul on a gravel road, but don’t let that deter you. It was well graded- just slow so any ol’ car can make it in fine weather. Take hwy 1 out of Christchurch, taking a right to stay on highway 76 towards Ashburton  Gorge and Mount Somers. Once in Mount Somers, you’ll continue onto Asburton Gorge Road. From there you’ll drive straight onto Hakatere Potts Road (the gravel one) for the final 48.1km. (about an hour)

The best part of the drive is undoubtedly at the top of a hill just before you drive down into the valley- you have expansive views over the plan with a clear view of Mount Sunday randomly jutting out of it in the middle. When you see it, you’re about 20-25 minutes way from the parking lot which will be on your left.

Address:  1705427/5″S State Highway 5, Mangakakahi, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand

Where to stay near Mount Sunday

Apart from a view campgrounds along the drive in from Mount Sommers, your only option closest to Mount Sunday is at Mount Potts lodge which will run you $220/ night and books up fast. I’d recommend finding a place in Mount Somers if you are already road tripping around the south Island so you can get to Mount Sunday earlier in the day. (before the tours)

If you are camping, expect to pay around $20-$35 for the night.

Mt Pott’s Lodge is $220/ night for a private room

Where we stayed in Mount Somers for only $72- an entire cottage with included laundry

The hike to the top of Mount Sunday

Now for the fun stuff- the short but sweet 1 hour RT hike from the parking lot will lead you across multiple little bridges of clear glacial water and up the steep hill that made up the Edoras set. There’s not set left behind, but you can 100% picture Edoras as you walk up the hill and view the flat top and surrounding mountains.

Distance: 1.8 miles/ 3km RT
Elevation gain: 200 feet
Time: 1 hour + for exploring

The trail starts from the opposite end of the parking lot with a few signs about the wildlife and a reminder to stay on the trail as parts of the land belong to a private ranch. While the first bit is an easy to follow track, you’ll have to watch for the orange flags that indicate where you’ll veer off towards the mount and from there you’ll see some marks in the footing but will mostly need to rely on the flags to get you across the small bridges. Eventually you’ll get to the beautiful swing bridge which has a max 1 person load and makes for dramatic photos and then it’s just a steep climb up the hill to the top.

You’ll follow the orange markers through the grass tussock
Views from on top of Mount Sunday

While we had a very blustery and chilly day, we lucked out in having the place completely to ourselves! (about 9AM) We spent a lot of time taking photos and videos and otherwise enjoying the beautiful landscape before heading back down to continue our road trip south.

Notable spots to see nearby

Lake Tekapo

Rakaia Gorge Walkway

Bonus where to eat near Mount Sunday:

Panthers Rock Bar & Café – one of our favorite meals we had on the south islands was at Panthers. We both got daily specials which were delicious plus topped it off with the national dessert of New Zealand-Pavlova. It was affordable, homey, and delicious.

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An iconic hike in Wanaka, and cover photo mecca, Roys Peak is a challenging hike up 4000+ feet to expansive views of Lake Wanaka and the Wanaka townships. While it isn’t a fjord, the views are fjord like with the lake stretching on 27 miles into the distance. The mountains surrounding it reach upwards of 6500 feet (2000 m) and form the iconic u-shape of the lake’s valley. This hike is wonderfully graded but is definitely challenging and hikers should be in good shape if attempting.

Hike Details:

Distance: 10 miles/16 km round trip
Elevation gain: 4265 feet/1300 m
Time: 6-8 hours

A moody day on Lake Wanaka

When to hike Roys Peak:

** The trail is CLOSED October 1-Nov 10 for lambing season. You will not be able to hike this area at all during those dates. **

Nov- Dec is spring and the trail will be more green and less busy, but there is greater potential for foul weather. Jan-Feb are the best months weather wise but also VERY popular. The car park very frequently fills by 9AM in the morning. Fall, Mar- Apr will be less crowded but again- you risk a rainy day. If you are visiting in the winter May-September, the NZ DOC recommends you have alpine equipment (ice axe/ crampons) to attempt this hike.  

Trail Description:

The trailhead is a large parking area on the leftside of the road 6.6 km/ outside of Wanaka center and will only take around 7 minutes to get there. There are porta potties just past the start of the track and again about 6.5km up at the lookout but no toilet paper is supplied- pack your own.

Sheep hanging out on the trail

The track as mentioned is well graded and at a constant incline switch backing up the hill. There are a few places people have cut across the switchbacks creating shortcuts but these are often VERY steep and slippery- taking just as long and are more fatiguing than just staying on the trail. To protect the environment- please stay on the track and quit adding to the slope erosion. The view doesn’t change much (depending on the weather) as you have largely the same view the whole time. The sheep however are so cute and entertaining so it still makes for an interesting hike. We loved all the little lambs running around first week of December.

A panoramic view of the bay from about 1.5 miles into the trail

The Roy’s Peak lookout

The lookout is about 6.5 km/ 4 miles and is a great goal if you don’t think you can make it to the very top. It’s still about 3700-4000 feet of gain meaning it is still hard, but it will shave off 1-1.5 hours of your hiking time to stop here. This is also where the iconic “gram” photos happen.

The iconic view from the lookout

Our hike experience:

We were visiting the first week of December during a horrible rainy week. We’d gotten rained out of our plans of camping in Mt Cook National Park for 2 nights and ended up in Wanaka for 3 nights/ 3 days instead. It rained… every. Single. Day. Luckily we heard about a pretty great weather reporting site for NZ called YR.No And on our 1st full day we noticed the rain was supposed to lighten around 2 PM. So 2 PM is when we started up the mountain with moments of dry weather but still raining. The views were mostly clear at least so we had a view as we climbed up.

We reached the lookout after 2.5 hours of climbing and the entire lake, trail, and most of the iconic ridges were completely hidden in clouds. We hiked down the ridge a little ways to make sure we’d notice if it cleared enough to grab some photos. We sat out there for a miserable 30 minutes, with arctic wind gusts, hail, rain, and a constant cold wind as a companion. I didn’t want to give up on the clouds clearing from the view though! There was only 1 other couple at the time and they left after about 15 minutes. Just as Braden was giving up himself (and threatening to leave me up there) the wind picked up indicating the clouds would likely shift more.

The view at the “lookout” when we got there
We had 1 or 2 false alarms when we thought the clouds might fully depart
Finally after 30 minutes, the clouds started lifting for real

Shift they did- WOW we got the view AND the peak to ourselves for 10+ minutes before another couple who started after us made it to the lookout with much better timing. Considering it was still very windy and cold, we hiked back down the trail to a more sheltered area for even more photos in the glorious sun. Then it was on down the trail to the end. With the constant downhill- my knees thanked me for packing my hiking poles.

Photos from the lookout

While we were pretty disappointed to miss out on all the hikes we’d planned in Mount Cook National Park, being able to hike to Roys Peak and get the iconic view plus a wild hiking experience semi made up for it. They actually closed the track along with many others the next day due to the rain making the trails so muddy. (Wanaka itself flooded as well) Just another example of why you should be flexible with your travel plans and look on the bright side. While we missed Mount Cook, we were still able to do this truly incredible hike.

Photo-op just down the train from the lookout

See nearby posts:

Guide to Wanaka

Complete Guide to Milford Sound

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