The Wanaka region is one of New Zealand’s most storied and scenic landscapes, and best explored by tackling the popular, backcountry Rob Roy Glacier Track. This half-day adventure takes you into the wilderness of Mt. Aspiring National Park, past waterfalls, streams, fern-laden valleys, and glaciers that cling to the mountains. Though its elevation is just 2,000 feet, the trail has the feel of an alpine adventure where snow-streaked ridgelines and creaking glaciers hang right at the edge of the tree line. Stop for a picnic at the end of the trail, and watch as chunks of Rob Roy Glacier go hurtling down towards the valley. You’ll cross over streams on swaying footbridges, trek along crystal clear streams, and immerse yourself in the rugged terrain of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Since accessing the trail can be so difficult, consider visiting as part of a backcountry tour with a local guide.
Insider Tip: When stopping for a picnic, be sure to shield your food from the kea, or curious alpine parrots.
The Rob Roy Glacier Track is about 1 hour from Wanaka and 2 hours from Queenstown. The trail begins from the Raspberry Creek Car Park, and the last 18 miles of the drive are unpaved. After a heavy rain, only 4x4 vehicles can access the trail since the road can require stream crossings. Expect 3-4 hours to finish the hike, which covers 6-7 miles. Since weather can change very quickly in the mountains, be sure to bring along adequate clothing and check the weather before setting out.