Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Zealand's Hiking: Roys Peak

The Ring of Fire trip, September 1st, 2013; Day Twenty-Nine of Thirty-Two.

While at the bar, Catherine and I had both wanted to hike up to the gondola on top of the mountain that overlooked the city. Doing it before the sun came up seemed like a good idea, so I woke up at 6, picked her up, and headed to the trail. We started our way up, ended up going up the wrong trail at one of the many splits (there were also mountain bike trails), but made it to a midpoint eventually where there was a map. However, it had taken too long to get to that point and she had to be back by 8:15 to prepare and leave for skydiving so we hung out a little, took the right trail down, took some pictures, and saw some cool waterfalls plus a nice view of the mountains with the sun not quite up yet. I had failed, yet again, to catch a sunrise in NZ, but still had a fun morning hike.

After dropping Catherine off, I made my way out of the city and to the first commercial buggy jump bridge. It was a 47 meter jump and I was tempted to try but didn’t want to spend the $180. There was even an optional water touch, where you dip into the water before bouncing up. I saw one guy do it and it looked fun but just not worth that much money to me. In hindsight, I wish I had the funds in the budget for it but I will save it for another trip.

A little town called Arrowtown was next; where I found yet another location of from The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). There was also a tour group mining for gold there but I don’t think they had any luck. It was neat to see the side of the river that the black riders were in the attempt to capture Galadriel and Frodo whom have waded out into the river. Fun fact: in the movie, the other side of the river is in a completely different location. Yes, I nerded out on this trip quite often.

Anyways, Lake Wanaka was calling my name and it was about an hour north; I had heard it was stunning from Myriam. Also, Una  and her friends were going up there at some point that day too. Upon arrival I saw what all of the fuss was about. The blue water stretched out in front of me as it weaved around islands as far as my eyes could see. I would have loved to have rented a boat for the day to explore more. It was a magical place, even compared to the rest of NZ.

I continued into to town to find the tourist information station and to jump on a quick hike to take in the area from above. Roys Peak jumped out at me instantly and I honed in on the details. It was a 16 km (10 mile) hike and was from the base (water level) to the top of a mountain. It was a six-hour hike and so leaving at 1:50 I was a little concerned about the time since it gets dark by 6:30–7:00. However, as an experienced hiker and with a torch in case it got dark, there was no changing my mind; I had to do this hike.

Shortly before I left, another guy was just about to start the hike so I knew there was at least someone else that was as crazy as me. He got a head start as I made a quick PB&J and packed my bag for the trek; I ended up catching up to him and hiking the rest of the way up and down with him. His name is Eric and was a great hiking partner. Solitude is fun for a bit but I always enjoy making friends and hikers are some of the easiest people to befriend. He was from the same area in Missouri that I used to live in and owned a gutter cleaning business. Apparently there is a lot of demand in that, a lot more than you would expect, at least. We made it to the top in 2 hours and 20 minutes and were overtaken by the views from the top as we could see 360 degrees of mountains, lakes, snow, the town, islands, and even the smoke from a small fire a ways off. Our tiny cars sat below as we watched people break into them and loot what little possessions we left behind. Only kidding but it was a real possibility with my van screaming tourist. I could see the views the whole way up the mountain but seeing them in every direction adds another element. The water was vividly blue and inviting as the sky matched the scene and the local shrubbery created a yellow-brown contrast that made everything pop even more. Eric and I took turns going out to a peak to nab one of the best shots in all of my trips. It is the defining shot of one amazing hike.

To cut down on the time going down we decided to hike along a ridge and then slide down what looked like loose rocks. After going off trail for a bit and making it to the rocks it was far more dangerous than we suspected; we may have been cliffed in but we were not going to give in so easily. So, we kept following the ridge and kept searching. The bushes we slick, like a long grassy bush, and on a slope it was easy to slip. However, the fall was flocculent so it was fun in a sense. We made it to a fence and followed it down to the trail. It was steep so we held on to one or two wires, leaned back and sidestepped down the slope. It helped immensely and we made it down to the real trail. From the top to the bottom in 1 hour and 50 minutes. We had taken 2 hours off the estimate and I maybe could have done it quicker on my own but wouldn’t have been anywhere close to as fun or enjoyable.

At the bottom we said goodbyes, exchanged info, and split. I headed into town to find wifi and a pizza for dinner. No sign from my other friends so I headed out on the road drive a little in the night. I may have missed some of the scenery but I would rather be hiking and exploring than driving in the day. I will have to return to Roys Peak for a shot at a sunrise hike. I had a very tight "schedule" to keep and only one more day on the south island. Two hours later I pulled into a little town called Twizel and found a place to camp outside the city. At this point, I was pretty tired, so I picked the first place that seemed adequate and dozed off quickly.

Read the full trip chronicles, here.

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