If you're looking for a challenging hike, then you'll love Roys Peak in Wanaka, NZ. It's tough, but it sure is rewarding.
You might recognise a section of Roys Peak from Instagram - the winding path, bold, contrasting colours and a tiny silhouette at the edge.
The trail is 16km return (although some sites say 11km), takes 6 - 7 hours (4 - 5 hours if you're superhuman) and has an elevation gain of 1,258 meters which is, um, pretty bloody steep.
While some trails open up to a view only once you reach the summit, the sweeping views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain ranges from the trail just gets better as you climb higher.
I've seen a few people describe this track as boring and monotonous because it's consistently and relentlessly uphill the entire way up but even though Kevin and I were on the verge of collapsing (not exactly at peak fitness level in 2015), we both still really enjoyed this hike - and not just for the amazing view at the end.
There were a few people on the track (who effortlessly overtook us) but it wasn't overcrowded. That was early December 2015 though so it might be a different story now thanks to its Instagram fame. (There have been some recent cautionary tales of the chaotic carpark.)
You could avoid most of the crowds and capture even better photos by starting early and catching the sunrise at the summit - which is something I'm looking forward to doing when I return!
Most people reach the popular lookout spot (takes around 3 hours) before turning around but if you're physically able, it's worth pushing on for another 40 - 60 mins to reach the summit. The views are even better, albeit maybe not as Instagram worthy.
Also, the steep descent sucks.
Before you go
Pack plenty of water, as well as food for a lunch break (we bought Subway)
Check dates before you go: the track is closed Oct 1 to Nov 10 each year to allow for lambing
Although steep, the trail itself is easy so you won't have a problem with slippery paths or rocks (we managed to survive with just comfortable sneakers)
There's a $2 (optional) donation at the start of the track
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