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"This course helped understand new ways of improving my winter photography. I enjoyed the full manual shoot video. Things I never thought to consider when shooting manually."
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Elaine Flournoy, USA
October 30, 2018
Perhaps one of the most recognizable places in New Zealand, no trip to the South Island is complete without a quick jaunt up the famous Roy's Peak. A rather monotonous walk will take you to high above the Wanaka township where you'll be rewarded with otherworldly views. Turquoise lakes, towering snowy peaks, perfectly placed islands. Despite being one of the most sought-after hikes in New Zealand, Roy's Peak continues to impress time after time.
We often talk about getting those unique shots in those places no one knows about but the reality is when you come to beautiful places, it's hard not to go those place that everyone goes. They're popular for a reason! When team Vallerret traveled to Wanaka in August, we made it a point to get up this famous peak to see what all the fuss is about.
Is it a busy place? For sure. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Roy's Peak in winter did not disappoint Here's everything you need to know if you're planning on making this hiker's pilgrimage during your New Zealand travels.
16 km return
1578 meters (Nearly 1,278 meters gained)
5-6 hours return, plus extra for photos and snacks
The start of the Roy's Peak track is located 6km outside of the Wanaka township. There's ample parking if you're planning on driving but for those who want an extra challenge, you can walk the 6km to the track via the track that border the lakefront.
Roy's Peak can be hiked all year round but of course, we prefer Roy's Peak in the winter! If you're planning on tackling this peak in the winter, you may need crampons or an ice ax depending on the snow conditions. At the very least, caution should be taken during the last 1/3 of the hike which can be steep and slippery. New Zealand weather can be finicky and quickly changing so be sure to prepare for any and all weather conditions.
This track is completely closed to all visitors from 1 October - 10 November due to lambing. There is no access to the track during this time so if this is a must-see for your trip, plan accordingly!
A good pair of hiking shoes or boots with decent grip is essential. For winter walking, you'll want a shoe that is waterproof and warm. Bring more layers than you'll think you'll need. You might be warm on the walk up but as soon as you stop for photos (and trust us, you will definitely be stopping for photos!) you'll get cold quickly. We always opt for merino wool base layers with a good insulating mid-layer. Don't forget a warm hat, waterproof jacket, insulating layers and of course, your photography gloves. If you want a deep dive on how to dress for winter photography, check out our list here.
The views from this hike are best during golden hour so if you're planning on hiking for sunrise or sunset, be sure to bring your head torches so you can navigate your way down in the dark.
Don't forget to pack enough food and water for your trip. There are no water sources on the mountain so make sure you have enough in your pack to last. If it's going to be an especially cold day, it might be a good idea to pack a camp stove to boil water for tea or coffee. Staying warm is essential to enjoying this awesome mountain!
Of course, the views from the summit are out of this world that classic shot you might have seen before is actually taken before the summit, about 2/3 of the way to the top. Once you're at this iconic spot, have a quick look around for the best angle. Your composition can be greatly enhanced by getting just slightly higher or to the right or left of the typical photography spot. The track provides a nice leading line to the ledge, overlooking the lake and the islands.
Further up the peak, you'll be able to see down to Matukituki valley with Mt. Aspiring (New Zealand's second highest peak) towering in the distance. If you look behind you, you'll see the quiet bustling Wanaka township and even Lake Hawea in the distance.
For the super adventurous, continue on to Mt. Alpha for even more photo opportunities! Plan about 45 minutes to get to the summit of Mt. Alpha.
Have you beenup the iconic Roy's Peak? What tips would you give?
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