Following on from Part 1 of Larissa’s Solo adventure of South Island, New Zealand I left Wanaka to climb that pesky mountain that is called Roy’s Peak.
I had seen photos from the top of this mountain and it looked pretty spectacular. I was slightly hesitant though because I had read blogs about how steep it was and that it’s a six hour trip.
After much deliberation I decided that if I didn’t do it, then I would regret it and be disappointed with myself. Once I got to the car park I saw plenty of cars parked there and thought to myself, it can’t be that bad.
Boy was I wrong…..
Roy’s Peak is a mountain in New Zealand, standing between Wanaka and Glendhu Bay. It offers a full-day walk, with views across Lake Wanaka and up to the peak of Mount Aspiring/Tititea. The track zigzags steeply up the side of Mount Roy, until you reach the ridge at the summit.
About 10 minutes into this walk I was already regretting it. The first third of the track is so so steep. It doesn’t help when you are carrying an 8kg backpack full of camera equipment. I had to stop many times to catch my breath and I consider myself quite fit. This was one of the most mentally challenging things I have ever done.
Luckily there were three small Asian girls walking in front of me and they kept me motivated. I thought if they can do it, so can I. They stopped a lot to take selfies so it gave me plenty of opportunities to have breaks.
This mountain almost broke me though. I never give up on anything but I came close on this one. I think the easiest part of the hike up was when I got to the snow at the top. It seemed to be easier to walk once you get there or maybe its because the end is in sight!
It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to the viewpoint but it was worth the pain for the views from the top. It is literally breath taking. My photos really don’t do it justice.
I spent about 40 minutes up here taking photos and just taking in this stunning view. I was also enjoying the feeling of elation that I had actually made it to the top and didn’t give up!
The decent back down took 1.5 hours. It was really hard on the knees and feet and I was in a lot of pain by the time I finally reached the bottom. During the walk I was thinking that I would never do this walk again but I’m pretty sure if I was in Wanaka again I couldn’t resist doing this climb for sunrise. I will just pay someone to carry my bag! ?
After finishing the hike to Roys Peak I drove to to Queenstown as I was hoping to catch sunset at the broken jetty halfway between Queenstown and Glenorchy. The sunset was stunning as I was coming down the Crown Range and I really should have stopped there to photograph it. I forgot how far Glenorchy was from Queenstown and ended up missing sunset.
I did however run into Crystal (midnight photography) at Wilsons Bay. I pulled in madly as I thought this was where the broken jetty was and Crystal was parked in the car park. I recognised the camper that she had as it was the same as mine and she saw me as soon I got out.
We had a chat and then drove down the road to a free camp spot that she knew about called Twenty Five Mile Stream. We both parked down near the water and we were the only campers there. It was so peaceful. The next morning I woke up early and drove the 10 minutes down the road to Glenorchy Jetty.
I absolutely love this little town. It is so picturesque with its gorgeous old jetty, snow capped mountains and aqua blue water.
After sunrise I headed back to where we camped to find Crystal but I thought that she had left because I couldn’t see her van so I headed into Queenstown. I was dying for a Chai latte and two photographers from the Gold Coast – Matt and Dan had just arrived so I caught up with them at Starbucks. We had a good chat and spent an hour trying to decide what we were all going to do as the weather had turned pretty bleak. I was staying in Glenorchy because there was still more that I wanted to photograph in the area. The boys still hadn’t decided what they were doing and went to pick up there van.
I sent Crystal a message to see where she was and she was going to visit a hidden gem of a waterfall so I decided to tag along with her. The waterfall was so gorgeous and just off the road near Glenorchy.
After our waterfall adventure I wanted to explore a bit more of Glenorchy and we ended up driving down a dirt road to a place called Paradise. It was a gorgeous drive but unfortunately we needed a four wheel drive to get to the good part of it so we turned around and headed back.
We both wanted to photograph sunset at the broken jetty so we headed back down there. Matt and Dan were still in Queenstown so I told them to meet us at the broken jetty too. I made a rock stack or a cairn as they are also known in the lake. It is said you will gain a year of life for each stone you place on a new cairn so I should live an extra 17 years ?. You can see these cool rock formations all over New Zealand. Crystal was cooking noodles in her van while I was busy with my rock stack waiting for sunset and for the boys to arrive.
The sunset wasn’t amazing but we all had fun chatting away.
After chatting for way too long we realised that it was dark and we hadn’t even decided where we were camping for the night. Crystal wanted to do a sunrise from up the top of the Remarkables so we all convoyed up there in our camper vans and found a spot high up on the mountain overlooking Queenstown.
The milky way was shining bright right above us so I got the camera out to take a shot with the van as the foreground interest.
Matt knocked on my door at about 10:30pm to tell me that there was a weather warning. Gale forced winds and snow were coming through the night. We all decided it was too risky to camp up there and drove back down the mountain.
We found another free camping spot right by lake Wakatipu and couldn’t resist taking more milky way shots over the lake at 12:30pm at night.
Sunrise the next morning over Lake Wakatipu was stunning. The sky turned completely fluorescent pink. It was so intense.
After breakfast and a chat to the boys about what they were doing, I drove into Queenstown for a Chai Latte from Starbucks ( I had to make the most of them, while I could!). The boys decided to head to the West Coast and Crystal was still sleeping back at the lake.
I decided to hang around Glenorchy for one more day and try to get the shots that I wanted. I drove to Arrowtown for a bit of a look around to fill in time before sunset.
Arrow town is a gorgeous little town that was very popular for gold mining in the 1800’s. It still retains the vibe of a gold rush town with strict covenants on the buildings to look as they did back in the day.
This little old run down shack was my favourite.
I could quite happily live in this little house in this gorgeous town. I can picture myself sitting at the window sipping cups of tea with a knitted blanket!
After exploring the wonders of Arrowtown, I made my way back to Glenorchy for the evening.
Back to Glenorchy
I pulled up by the broken jetty to grab a shot of it as there were some cool clouds hanging around the mountains.
Then I headed down the road to Glenorchy again trying to capture the sunset that I was after. I had no luck but I hung around until the stars came out.
After being happy with the shots I got I drove 5 minutes down the road to Little Stony Creek camp ground to free camp for the night. This is the closest free camp to Glenorchy.
The next morning I headed back to the jetty for sunrise again. It was very cloudy and rainy by the morning but just as the sun was rising it cleared just enough for some colour.
Looking at the weather forecast after sunrise it wasnt looking too good anywhere. It was raining on the West Coast. It was raining with strong wind at Nugget Point which was where I was supposed to be heading next. Mount Cook was still under thick cloud and gale forced winds.
My only option was to head back to Wanaka and just hope that it cleared at Mount Cook. I was really wanting to get in there to do some hikes and get some shots of those epic mountains and lakes.
Back to Wanaka
The other reason I wanted to go back to Wanaka was because Crystal had told me about this amazing pizza that you can get there. She drove all the way from Queenstown one night just for the pizza.
Matt and Dan were also in Wanaka at that stage, so we decided to all go out for this amazing pizza that night.
I camped at the Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park & Motel again. I went back to the Wanaka tree again for sunset. This time there were two Asian weddings getting photos at the tree. Luckily they left before they colour came.
After sunset was over I went to try out this amazing pizza. I have to say it is one damn good pizza. If you are ever in Wanaka you have to try the “Her Majesty” pizza at The Cow Pizza and Spaghetti House. Oh, and add pineapple to it. You can’t have pizza without pineapple.
The weather was still bad at Mount Cook the next day so I thought I would go back Lake Tekapo. It was covered in thick cloud and fog all day. I stayed the night but got no shots.
The next day I had to drive back to Christchurch to drop off the van and go to the airport to fly home.
My thoughts on campervanning around New Zealand
I loved every minute of my camper trip around the South Island of New Zealand. The wilderness campers are the absolute best.
I loved that the bed went up and down from the roof with the push of a button. My camper was so warm in the middle of winter thanks to the LPG gas system.
The decent sized fridge meant that I could take a bunch of food with me to cook in the fully equipped kitchen. I enjoyed sipping on my hot chocolates while staring out the window at the amazing views.
Being able to free camp means that you can get to some really remote places and find absolute peace. I free camped 6 out of 10 nights in New Zealand and probably could have free camped for more.
There are so many amazing places that you can free camp all over New Zealand. This stunningly beautiful country is designed to be enjoyed this way and the wilderness campers make it so easy and comfortable to do this.
You really do have so much freedom with the Wilderness Campers and I can’t wait to return to New Zealand to hire another one and explore more of this amazing country. 10 days was no where near enough time to see the splendour of this place 🙂
If you would like to hire a wilderness camper and have the trip of a lifetime click on the link below:
Wilderness Motor Homes New Zealand
3 Export Ave
Phone +64 9 282 3606
Email: [email protected]
Have you been to these Roys Peak, Queenstown or Glenorchy? What was your experience like? I would love to know so leave a comment below.