otago

10

Lake Wanaka is a beautiful water basin with islands, bays, and surrounding mountains. The mountains are, like almost always, my favourite arena to explore. Situated near Lake Wanaka is Roys Peak, a summit that overlooks the land with a full 360 degree view. I normally hike with the rising sun, but today was spent lounging next to the lake and enjoying a cool summer breeze. The entire town was buzzing with energy and travellers, and it was cool just to relax. It was a hot day, and at around 3pm I decided to begin the climb to the top of Roys Peak. Loaded with water and sunscreen, the entirety of the ascent was exposed, with the sun relentlessly beaming. The mountains are covered in tussock and tussock only, with no trees to find shade, nor any other object to find protection. I wasn’t in an adventure mood, mentally still lying down by the water, and this made it harder.

The views along the trail are huge. The trail winds through the meadows, across private property, through herds of sheep, with bushes and thistles before the change to tussock grasslands. As we climbed higher, the sun disappeared behind the mountain face, and the stretching shadows made for a welcome reprieve. We only met a few people along the way, due to our late start. There was a really cool guy from Brazil who was soaking up the views, and it was great to see someone so engaged in nature’s beauty. He hadn’t done much trekking before, and even though he was struggling physically he said it was worth it. Towards the summit the temperature dropped and out came the warmer clothing. The last twenty minutes is an amazing line across the ridges, with a drop on one side.

By now I could tell it was going to be an epic view, and it delivered. With the summit emptying of the last hikers for the day, it was a mountain top to ourselves. It feels like the roof of the world with an all-encompassing panorama, with mountains, valleys and waterways stretched in all directions. Also on the horizon sits Mount Aspiring/Tititea, which I think is New Zealand’s greatest mountain. It towers into the skyline, defined and determined. I felt exhausted, but being there revitalised my energy. Sitting and watching as the sun crept further away, and the shadows grew. I would have loved to stay and see the night rise, but hadn’t planned enough resources in advance. It was already going to be dark by the time of decent. With one more look the tramp down began. It was super peaceful on the walk down, just talking to Jess and listening to the sounds of the outdoors. Peacefully quiet, just the rhythmic pace of each step, and the occasional sheep.