After crossing the Southern Alps via Haast Pass, we arrived in Wanaka in the early evening. Wanaka, just like its neighboring Queenstown, are two small cities at the lake side which compete for the tourists’ dollars with activities like kayaking, skydiving, and all those other things you basically can do at any other place in New Zealand. As I was not in the mood for any of these activities but still wanted to have some adventure, I decided late at night that I will climb Roys Peak, a mountain that rises about 1200 m from Wanaka and was said to be a wonderful place to experience sunrise.
Before going to bed at around 23:00, I quickly packed all the necessary things so I did not have to wake up Ilinca when getting up very early the next morning. Needless to say that I unfortunately could not convince Ilinca to join the adventure.
I read online that the climbing of the mountain would take between 2.5 and 3 hours, but usually these hours are very pessimistic, nevertheless I calculated with 2.5 hours. Since sunrise was at 5:48, this meant I should start to hike at 3:15. The trail head however was 5 km away from our campground, so I first had a short bike ride along the completely empty highway before I could start hiking. This meant I had to get up at 2:50.
As planned, I got up at the given hour and I arrived at 3:20 at the trail head. To my surprise I was not alone at all, I at least met 20 other tourists on the way up who had the same crazy idea. The hike was a steep and steady climb, just the way I like it and the way I usually hike back home. And as a wonderful extra: It was almost full moon that day, and I basically did not need my headlamp at all during the climb. I could even see my own shadow from the moonlight.
Progress was good, and I arrived on top after 1h 48 min, around 40 earlier than the estimate. This was on the one hand good because it meant I did not get completely out of shape on my travels and I had enough time to prepare my photo equipment for sunrise. But at the same time it was problematic because I did not plan to bring up enough warm clothes to spend more than an hour on the summit in strong wind and rather cold conditions. By the time of sunrise, my hands were really shaking and I was happy that my camera has a good image stabilization, otherwise many of my photos would have been useless.
After a 1.5h descent, I reached the trail head again at around 8:00 and cycled back the 5 km to the campground to meet Ilinca for breakfast and spend a rather relaxed day. As Ilinca was anyway planning to spend a relaxing day at Wanaka village, it was good that I already used up all my energy in the morning and did not have my usual urge to be active. I’m sure Ilinca appreciated that.
In the late afternoon we also continued with our campervan to Queenstown, which is supposed to be a very nice place. Once having arrived there however, Ilinca and I were both not very impressed by Queenstown as it was basically full of tourists and agencies trying to sell you tours and activities, but the city did not have any charm and we both missed Wanaka which is still much more relaxed. Therefore the choice for us was easy to continue the next day towards Milford Sound.