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Hike the Skyline Track

Glendhu Bay, New Zealand



11.8 miles

Elevation Gain

4000 ft

Route Type



Added by Dirk Badenhorst

Time your afternoon epic along the Skyline Track to enjoy a stunning sunset 4000 ft above Lake Wanaka. Better yet, stay for dinner so that you can hike the remaining descent below the shimmer of millions of stars in one of the best night skies on the planet!

The Roys Peak carpark is an accessible trailhead 10 minutes outside of Wanaka that rewards anyone willing to spend a few hours slogging their way uphill with EPIC views of Lake Wanaka, the surrounding mountain ranges, and Aspiring National Park in the distance. For those who are interested in something that is equally challenging but significantly more adventurous, there is the Skyline Track that traces the dominating ridge line that hangs 4000 ft above town!

There are four things to know before hiking the Skyline Track:

  1. This hike is a point to point hike and starting at the Spotss Creek TH and working your way to Roys Peak Car Park has several advantages. 
  2. Time your tramp so that you have a few hours to climb to the top so that if all goes to play you can enjoy the setting sun with some trail beers with your friends surrounded by a stunning vista. Start earlier than you think, most people hike on average about 2 mph or 3.2 km per hour. 
  3. Expect quad burn and perspiration which also means bringing layers (breathable layers) to stay warm and comfortable is essential. And for gods sake stay away from cotton. 
  4. Things will get a bit sporty out there, so come mentally prepared for an adventure. The climbing, the logistics, the time commitment and on occasion the exposure, is what makes this hike exciting. There is a section that some may consider sketchy. If you happened to get caught in the dark then it ups the intensity just a little more. Pro Tip: Leave any friends who are on the fence at Kai Whaka Phi to enjoy Frappes as you beast it up a mountain.  

Begin by dropping your car at the Roy Peak Trailhead right out of town. 

Then hitch hike or taxi down the Cardrona road that goes to Queenstown. The Spotts Creek Trailhead is about 10km south of Wanaka on the right. This is a great way to start the hike because as you ascend the ridge, the landscape slowly reveals itself to you as you get closer and closer to the top. 

Best Advice:  Hitch hiking in NZ which is a great way to meet new people, get a free ride to a trail head, or have an weird experience in a car with a stranger  but thats against the norm. Maybe do it with a friend. 

Once you find the trailhead you'll gradually make your way from rolling grasslands, to a 4x4 track that will eventually start to get sporty. After crossing a couple of small streams the track will ramp up and lead you up the ridge line. 

Next, climb to the top of Mount Alpha which is the mountain with the rocky features visible from town. This is the area where you will have to do some easy route finding and a couple of moves that anyone who is afraid of heights wouldn't be too stoked about.  This is the land of false summits and seemingly endless climbing so enjoy hanging out in the pain cave for a while. The variety of terrain will keep you excited because at times you may be scrambling, crab crawling, slipping and quite possibly cursing whoever convinced you to do this hike. But it will be worth it! Full speed ahead!

After reaching Roys Peak (you'll know when there is no more up hills to ascend) you'll be rewarded with a great spot to sit, nurse your aches and pains and ponder how glaciers shaped all the valleys in front of you while you await the next portion of the hike...a casual downhill under the stars! Hopefully you packed dinner, some warm beverages, layers, and a headlamp!

The hike down is as straight forward as it gets, as far was hiking down dozens of switch backs is concerned. Spend the next couple of hours looking up (you may see the milky way), looking around (you may see local sheep), and looking down (for porcupines that sometimes hang out on the trail). 

Enjoy meeting local go getters that are hiking up to catch the sunrise, but also, enjoy knowing that you'll soon enough get back to your car, which is hopefully stashed with lots of salty snacks, chocolaty treats, and ice cold brews as a reward! 

Grab ice on the way home as a gift to your poor knees for tramping it down a 4000 ft face. They'll thank you in the morning. 

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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