The original plan for today was Queenstown to Dunedin. I had everything ready to go, accommodation, activities - the whole lot. As it turned out though, my path took me through Wanaka again, and wouldn't you know it; the weather was perfect. So I put all of my Dunedin plans on the back burner, and decided to hike Mount Roy instead.
That peak, right in the middle of the photo above. That was my target. Only 8km of walking track, and a 1.6km mountain stood in front of me. The thing about the Roy's Peak walking track is that it's all uphill. There's not a single piece of flat, nice track. It's all shit.
There were so many points where I almost threw in the towel. The peak didn't seem to be getting any closer, and every double back on the zig-zagging path was heartbreaking. On top of that, I'd run out of water quite early on, underestimating just how much I'd need it - and how much further I had to go. Slowly but surely though, I made it to the first lookout point on the track; and was completely blown away.
It wasn't the end of the hike though. Just above me, the final peak was still looming - and it was going to be a tough push.
The path was rockier, steeper, and completely covered in ice. For every 40 steps, I needed to stop and completely catch my breath for a couple of minutes. It was incredibly challenging.
Finally, after 3 hours of climbing the mountain - I'd finally made it to the peak. And holy shit was I rewarded for it.
It was exactly what I hoped it would be. Beautiful views, completely surrounded by mountains - and total silence. Even the lighting was perfect, I'd somehow managed to pull a golden hour out of my ass. Then it hit me, "Golden hour? Oh shit, it's almost sunset!". I'd completely lost track of time, and had no interest in hanging around on the mountain beyond sunset. In the back of my mind I knew it was still a two hour push to get to the car though, and that at least half of the walk was going to be in complete darkness.
I hadn't made anywhere near as much progress in the time before sunset as I'd hoped. Every step was total agony for my knees, and I still had the equivalent of Mount Dandenong to descend. Before the sun did decide to completely disappear though, I was treated to one hell of a view.
I continued trudging along, with only my phone's torch as light. Several near rolled ankles later though, and I was back to the car. The total time for the hike was somewhere in the area of 6 hours, and it was all completely worth it.
Tonight I'm set up at the Lakeview Holiday Park in Wanaka again, before heading off to Dunedin tomorrow morning (assuming my legs will carry me anywhere, right now they're incredibly sore!).