I’m a firm believer in, the body is able if the mind is willing, and as dusky pink vignettes from the 5am sunrise streamed into my bedroom I found myself bounding out of bed. I, lover of sleep-ins can rise with the sparrows if the motivation is right. Frankly, there is no motivation quite like the valleys and vistas, rivers and rapids or forest trees and terrain of the South Island’s landscape. Yes, I could have continued lazing in bed, whilst watching nature’s show from my window as the sun slowly rose behind the mountain’s ridge line, but this day was the first of few forecast without rain. This day was our green-flag to hike Roy’s Peak.
Yes, I know, no big deal you may think, it’s only a hike, why the grand talk-up? Yet at a 20 degree sustained incline for an 8km ascent, and with an elevation of 1578 meters,… and here it is, wait for it… all with children in tow, the philosophy, “the body is able if the mind is willing” became the days mantra.
Willing we were, setting out in the cool of morning. Advised by DOC , the 16km hike (round trip) takes approximately 5-6 hours, which we completed in 6.5 hours. The ascent is fairly uninspiring as the scenery is unchanging. Tussock grasslands, flocks of sheep and rocky paths is what you can expect for 8kms. That being said, the descent is spectacular, showcasing panoramic views of where horizon and lake meet. Whilst the hike is strenuous and mentally challenging, obviously it is achievable, ( my 7 year old succeeded).
It is imperative to check the weather prior to beginning. Conditions on mountains change very quickly, and we found the weather in the South Island to change quickly, even in December. Essentials are sunscreen, supportive/sturdy walking shoes (sneakers are fine in dry weather), a wind/waterproof jacket and sunglasses and of course your camera. Layered dressing is strongly suggested as you will be boiling hot on the ascent, but upon summiting the wind can be wild. (For context, we did this walk during December).
The elation, the sheer delight, the emotional relief of summiting is a challenge to articulate. To find the words for a moment that leaves one speechless is always difficult. Yet, what I can describe is the quiet calm of camaraderie amongst those at the summit. Groups huddled eating together, offering to take pictures of others as they summited. I can find the words to tell you about the orderly respect of everyone who patiently queued to have their photo captured out on the iconic ridgeline. And I can tell you about the unifying bond formed that day amongst our family. It wasn’t our bodies that got us up that mountain. It was our minds. The things we needed to say to each other. The words of encouragement, engendering belief, of vision, of purpose to coax us all up there.
Without a doubt humans are capable of far greater than we allow ourselves to be. I have no idea how we’ve become so “soft” as a society by withdrawing so readily when life becomes a little bit tough or slightly uncomfortable. The “it’s too hot”, “I feel tired”, “maybe tomorrow” and the “I can’t do this, it’s too hard”, mindset is so readily actioned, and at any given time had Hubby or I thrown in the towel our children would have descended Roys Peak faster than we could have said “Go!” But the strength and character refining that comes from overcoming adversity or achieving challenges served as a lesson in encouragement for our girls aged 12, 10 and 7. How can we be sure? Because later that night our youngest read us her journal entry that she’d written about her day. “I didn’t think I could do it. But I learned that I can do anything even if I’m only 7”. How else can we be so sure? Because every hike thereafter, be it 10km’s or 6km’s in the days that followed were without complaint. Zero. In fact on the contrary, another daughter said, “… I walked Roy’s Peak I can do this.” Confidence comes from doing.
Post hike, with hearty appetites, and fatigued bodies we allowed our eyes to eat before our stomachs, indulging in our favourite food hub of Wanaka. Located in Ardmore St, first crêpes at Charlie Brown crêperie, whilst waiting for wood-fired pizza at Francesca’s.
Directly across the road from Charlie Brown creperie is the Wanaka Paradiso cinema where our aching limbs relaxed in a vintage inspired, retro styled cinema. With couches, chairs and novelty themed sitting areas this was escapism at it’s most comfortable . If the fit out isn’t treat enough, perhaps the movie intermission will be. Stopping the film at half time, patrons gather in the adjoining café located within Paradiso. We were served (at a charge) freshly baked, still warm cookies, and can purchase other treats too. This was the reward for a day charged with sweat, lactic acid, and mountain peak views across lake Wanaka and extending to the peak of Mount Aspiring. Roy’s Peak had taken it’s toll, but the experience definitely gave back more than it took.