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Route:

Parking Lot –> Elevated Track –> Summit –> And Back

Total Distance:

16 km (9.9 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 7 – 9 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Seasonal Restrictions:

Track closed for lambing between 1st October and 10th November each year.

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂 🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

The Wanaka region is still by far the most memorable part of my New Zealand trip. Weather in New Zealand can get pretty precarious; with moments of sunshine, and then moments of melancholy!

In hindsight, we were pretty much blessed during our visit to the Wanaka region with perfect skies, not too chilly temperature, and best of all, refreshingly cool breeze that fills every volume corner of our lungs as we inhaled in the best of nature!

 

How to get there?

The start of the Roys Peak Track is just a quick and simple approximately 5 km drive North West from Wanaka Township! Drive on Ardmore Street, which will lead you on Wanaka- Mount Aspiring Road.

Look out for the yellow signage (which is not as prominent) ‘Roys Peak Track’ on the right (if you are coming from Wanaka Township, that is). The car parking area is just there at the base of the peak!

 

Highlights and Views

There is a green donation box near the entrance of the Roys Peak Track. The donation is more for maintenance and upgrade of the walking track. It is not compulsory and you do not have to be compelled to donate if you do not want to.

The first section of the Roys Peak Track crosses private land, hence, it is sage to keep on the paved track, and respect landowner’s property! Since there would be approximately a month’s long of lambing between October and November, obviously we could get to see some, well… … many… … sheep and lambs up close and personal all throughout the track up!

And of course, you have to accept the animals in all their glory right?

By that, I meant the woolly fur balls’ poops and their glorious smell that accompanies with! Yup, poopies all over the track; especially the initial section! Here. There. EVERYWHERE! 😀 Glorious smell!

The view just keeps getting more amazing as you ascend. I couldn’t help but always take a glance back as I climbed up a few steps further!

First it was just the hills, the thin strip of Wanaka Township, and the partial view of Lake Wanaka, then slowly, the lake view just extents wider, and the town strip gets larger! Soon we could see the sprawling Wanaka Township on the right and the cerulean Lake Wanaka on the left- all within our peripheral vision; unimpeded!

The distant mountains and beyond were now visible as well! Partially shrouded by the clouds, some mountains were snow-capped. Hence, I kept my eyes peeled for the moment the mountains were less covered by the clouds to capture a shot or two or three!

I do know that the view is going to be even more awe-inspiring up at the summit of Roys Peak, but I just couldn’t help myself! I had to pause the trudge up (at intervals), snapped pictures and immersed in it all! It was just too beautiful, it was impeccable! Maybe that’s why when people say that they take a certain time to complete a trek; I probably take longer than what was mentioned! 🙂

Along the journey up Roys Peak Track, you will see an up sloping field of alpine tussocks, and from far it looks like fur balls of hair that sways so gently and in sync with the wind. The tussocks just remind me of the movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, where the colourful vibrant trees look like cotton candy and balls of hair!

There is a long narrow strip for respite just before you continue on the climb to the summit. You could stop here for a snack/lunch break and if you are really not up for it, you could slowly make your descend. Most people would stop here and have photos taken of them on the narrow strip with the blue hues of sky, lake and mountains as backdrop! Very Instagram-worthy! ;P

This is a nice spot to be ensorcelled by the beauty of the landscape in front of you. And by this time, you would be imperatively certain that the arduous trudge up earlier was definitely all worth it; every drop of sweat!

Comparing the long elevated way up from the base, to the climb from the respite area to the summit, the latter is really not that long a journey. You have reached the Roys Peak summit when you see the tall radio antenna tower!

So knowing this now, if you see it afar whilst climbing, maybe you would want to use this as your beacon of hope to spur you on? Haha!

I cannot explain how much satisfaction I had gain from conquering the Roys Peak Track. The amount of effort I vested in to get a view as gawkingly breath-taking as this was just very deserving in my opinion.

You know there are some treks where you don’t need to put much effort and still get awesome views? And there are some which make you cringe and grit your teeth, but yet you still press on, and are rewarded with the views to die for?

Well, though sometimes we all need treks which requires less effort in exchange for good view; ‘cause you know, we are all not made of steel; and we cannot always and every day be conquering challenging treks right?

But, in my opinion, it is good and healthy to challenge yourself every now and then to a trek that makes you work your ass for something deserving. I feel a greater sense of achievement as compared to a simpler and easier trek! Don’t you think so? 🙂

‘Cause the best memories will be deeply etched when you actually put an effort and work for it rather than just getting it on a silver platter! Though, I have to say, sometimes silver platters would be nice too! Haha! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Just keep swimming moving… … Just keep swimming moving… …

For someone who hasn’t done the Roys Peak Track before, you couldn’t really pinpoint where the final destination (a.k.a summit) really is. All you see is just a relentless elevated winding track to the heavens; which means against gravity! And well… … we all know, gravity ain’t exactly the best-est of friend sometimes right?

Definitely not the most benign track to be on, but you really need to rivet on the goal here; and that’s to reach the summit, because you presage that the view up there is going to be so swooning, and it’s just a pity if you were to miss it! Well… … at least that’s what I tell myself whilst on this track!

So don’t just stop at the narrow strip for respite! Have a break and continue to the summit! It’s really not that far! Honest!

(b) Start the trek EARLY

If you are someone who loves pausing to snap photos, or need multiple breaks to catch your breath (because, this is a massive elevated track), then you really need to start early. Take it from someone who had done this trek in the morning, and finished it close to evening.

(c) Sunscreen is a MUST; alongside windproof outer coat

Roys Peak Track gave me my first sunburn on my lower arms in over a decade! Usually I would use sunscreen and at most I would just tan up, but this time there was massive skin peeling. Why? ‘Cause I was lazy, that’s why.  And overly complacent! It was bad enough for me to get an aloe vera after sun lotion to soothe the burn.

This is an exposed track, with no trees to shelter you like most forest track. So do not be lazy like I was, and slap on sunscreen!

Windproof coat is much needed just in case the weather changes. You do not want to be freezing your ass at 1578 m above sea level, do you? Haha!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money!

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Gillespies Beach Car Park –> Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge) –> Gillespies Beach –> Gillespies Lagoon (bridge) –> Galway Beach Seal Colony –> Miners Tunnel (backtrack) –> Gillespies Lagoon –> Gillespies Beach –> Gillespies Beach Car Park

Total Distance:

6.8 km (4.2 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 6 – 7 hours (with plenty of time to get lost, take great shots and respites (lunch) when necessary)

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂
Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Trekking Route + What you might experience (getting lost)?

TIPS?

This was a much anticipated trek when in Fox Glacier township. With the description on Google saying that we could actually trek to see a colony of seals with beady black eyes, I voted ‘Why Not!’ instantly! With no fences or viewing glass that impedes, just pure wilderness and wild fur seals, it was an opportunity I wouldn’t want to miss- with great hope that nature would be on our side for us to spot them for afar of course.

 

How to get there?

An approximately 25 minutes drive from Fox Glacier Township, head on Cook Flat Road, and turn right onto the gravel- made Gillespies Beach Road. The journey could be slow and draggy due to the nature of the road, and the view, well… … isn’t that all awe-inspiring, but just bare with it!

Blast on music and enjoy the bumpy ride, because the corollary is just too sweet to not hold on to it! Just keep thinking of those fur seals; wild and untouched; that’s the main goal (gold) here. 😉

But of course, we were pretty lucky to see an amazingly tranquil sight when the weather changes and the sun starts to cuddle up for the night. On the journey back after the trek, we had views that were just inexplicably breath-taking that we had to stop the car and snap!

 

Trekking Route + What you might experience?

This route we took, well… took us a minuscule bit of time to figure out and to maneuver about because there is just so many routes you could actually take and things you could see all within the same vicinity. With a variety of route choices, and not enough time, we need to make wise decisions. So let me ease this out for you and you could totally skip certain routes that doesn’t interest you!

At the car park you will be first greeted by a massive rustic suction dredge machinery designed by Edward Von Schmidt in the 1800s. With parts of the machine gone, and rust flakes all over the entire dredge, it was time to step into the time capsule and take us back a few hundred years.

You have the options to take the ‘Gillespies Suction Dredge Walk’ which is a short 15 minutes loop or the 5 minutes ‘Miners Cemetery Walking Track’. However, we decided to head for the 1932 Gold Dredge a.ka. the Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk instead.

1. Gillespies Beach (detour appetizer before the main trek)

Before that, I was curious to where the route with the signage on the left labelled ‘Beach’ would take us. Obviously the beach… Duh! But I was just interested to see the beach first alright? That’s not a crime right? 😛

Gillespies beach is just perfect for anyone who wants solace. Placid; with only the waves crashing against the shore, and the late morning sea breeze howling, it was a cool way (literally) to start any day, any time!

The insanely many rocks that awash and shrouded the sand on the beach was definitely a unique sight for me. I have never seen so many pebbles and rocks on a beach that people actually could stack pebble-made sculptures; which I must add, do act as good photography pieces- not complaining here. 😛

2. Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge)

This is the start of the main trekking route towards the seal colony! Whoo hoo!

We started off with walking amongst the tall shrubs, bushes, certain animal poopies and friendly flies that always come along with the poopies. Not pointing fingers here but I reckon the culprit… … the sheep. I really do. We saw a few of them en route to the car park; just saying… … 😛

Soon we saw a few more rustic machineries that were half submerge in the pond; with a massive part of them still sticking out. I really cannot help but think of Tow Mater from the Disney movie Cars upon the sight of all of these!

Ambling along a very narrow walkway under some shade and admiring, these machineries are so rusted and ancient that it was just unbelievable that they were so close to reach (not that I actually touched them).

3. Gillespies Lagoon (bridge); getting lost?

Part 2 for the walk was to head towards Gillespies Lagoon. To do that, we had to head pass the shrubs and bushes towards the beach (just follow the signage).

Once you see the beach with huge chunks of dried logs sprawled on the sand at intervals with countless rocks and pebbles, head right towards the Lagoon. However, if you think that you have seen enough, you could head left, and you would be on your merry way back to the car park via Gillespies Beach.

Now here comes the hard part.

We got a little carried away with walking along the beach that we pass our turn to the right which will lead us to the bridge. We even thought we had to climb boulders and across waters to get across. But none of such difficult tasks were needed, not to worry.

We saw the lagoon but thought that the lagoon wasn’t the right one as we could not see the bridge. Well, it turns out that we had to turn right BEFORE passing the lagoon and walk along it. Because sooner enough there would be a signage on the right (amongst the bushes) that says… … Hey what do you know, ‘Bridge 3 minutes’. Feeling stupid then we were. Haha! A little setback here, but not to worry; the day was still long!

We spend more time by the bridge and the tannin lagoon taking massive photos, and of course, had some snacks for lunch and watched a couple of duckies roamed in the lagoon! It was a nice serene moment for respite.

4. Galway Beach Seal Colony

From here onwards, the route starts to be a little more rocky and challenging. So if you want to head back after seeing the bridge, DON’T. Push yourself a bit further through the forest, and at least make it to the Miners Tunnels. Anyway, it is only about 10 – 15 minutes (ish) from the bridge (with no muddy sections)! I’m sure with a slow walk, it would be fine! And after that, if you still feel you cannot carry on, then backtrack. 🙂

For us, we decided to leave the Miners Tunnel for when we come back from Galway Beach Seal Colony because we all know; once we got stuck at a place for photos, we would spend an ungodly amount of time at that one place. And at that moment, time was a factor. It was already long past noon (we probably spend too much time by the lagoon and lost track of time). This was great evidence for us to keep moving or we will never make it back before sundown! Haha! 😀

The gravel route in the dense forest soon turned muddy. I mean, real muddy. Too muddy that at times, your only option was to brave through it and sink yourself, close to ankle deep, into the mud. Hhhmmm… … What a way to get close to nature. But of course, I would try not succumb to such.

I would think of ways like hopping and leaping from one dry(ish) spot to the next and walked gingerly close to the edge if I had to, just to avoid the thick mud if it was possible. J would followed suit, but at times she decided to take another way across and got her shoes a tad bit closer to nature. There were also other times when she was faster at maneuvering through them than I was, and well… … when she sunk in, we both knew it was a danger zone, and I would then avoid it. So for the times when she sunk in, I really do have her to thank for that. Oops! Haha! :S

Sometimes, whoever was faster to cross over the more challenging mud section, that person would help pull the other over, or just communicate with the other on the next step of action if the other party was stuck in a muddy predicament. Sounds like we are in an obstacle course, and it did felt like it for awhile. But since there were so many muddy sections, soon we were immune to them, and maneuvering around them were quicker.

There were some logs at intervals in the muddy sections to help people cross over it, but sometimes, the logs aren’t at all stable, and stepping on them may cause you to slip and fall into the puddle of mud. So do be extra prudent.

There you have it, what you may experience on this trek!

I did however came out of this with minimal damage; though with some minor cuts from branches, and some form of sinking into the mud; which was surely unavoidable. And yes, I am proud of myself for that. Haha! 😀

I do not have pictures to show for the muddy routes as we pretty much had our hands filled (filth) from dodging around the mud. Haha! But trust me, it was muddy. We passed a friendly old couple who were on their way back to the car park, and his wife had accidentally sunk into the mud, kneecap down. Oh man, what a sight it was. But kudos to the couple, who did not allow age to get in their way for an experience of adventure. Salute!

After all the hard work which seems like an eternity of dense forest mud dodging, we were exhilarated when we saw a flight of metal stairway to paradise. We, I mean, I, climbed down the steep wet stairway hurriedly and hopped boulder to boulder to the beach.

Oh man, it was amazing to have finally arrived. And the hunt (not literally of course) for the fur seal begun once J ambled over! Whee…! I must say, it wasn’t easy to search for the colony. We had to walk a long way along the beach through the boulders slowly, and be consistently on alert mode as we do not want to be found in a situation where we were too close and trapped within the colony. The key is to espy the wild from a distance, yeah?

And we found them! Well, not a colony, but just a few sprawling on the sand. But I’ll take it! Better than nothing right? Maybe it was the time we arrived, it was already late afternoon by then.

Regardless, elated as we were, we tried to contain our excitement so as to not scare them. All the mud dodging in the forest earlier was worth it! 😀

The way back to the car park was backtracking; meaning another round of mud dodging through the dense forest. Whee… … … … … …. I cannot wait… …

5. Miners Tunnel (backtrack)

The Miners Tunnel was a nice checkpoint to assure us that we were out of the dense forest, and we could actually make it out in one piece by sundown. Melodramatic much? But yeah… … It was really getting late, and there weren’t a single soul trekking with us in the forest.

The view of the ocean was breath-taking. A nice aerial view of everything, and on good days I heard you may actually see the seals from way up here at the viewpoint! Alas we weren’t this lucky that day, but hey, seeing them at the beach earlier, that was good enough! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Good time to start the trek? EARLY!

How early is early? Well… … It’s really up to you. But I reckon, if I would do this again, 8 am (ish) is a nice time to work with.

This way you will imperatively have plenty of time to admire the scenery by Galway Beach where the seal colony is. I mean with all the hard work put into get there, the least you could do to reward yourself is to spend a little bit more time by the beach lunching (away from the seal colony of course) don’t you think so?

I recall we did not get enough time to soak in the beach at all, and was compelled to head back soon. 🙁 It was very close to sunset and we were still only halfway through the muddy sections on the trek back. This frightened us a little. Okay, a lot. Because this means we aren’t even close to the Miners Tunnels, which also meant that we were still in the dense forest, and light-less is definitely not the way to maneuver around in the forest; with no flashlight. I bet even Jessie J can’t help you here. #justsaying

Hence, it is always good to have ample day light to work with, no?

(b) Take photo of the signage with the trekking map printed on it!

Either with your mobile phone or camera, make it a habit to snap a photo of the signage with a map at the start of any trek.

First of all, you can always refer to it to remind yourself how long the journey would be, because sometimes the signage does indicate the duration of the trek; which I must add is not always accurate- speaking for many experiences. So back to the first TIP? Start your trek EARLY!

Secondly, the map on the signage would help you if you were to get lost and there ain’t a soul to ask for directions. We really relied on photos like these on quite a few occasions, so don’t underestimate these simple photographs- they can go a long way.

And lastly, a good photo to use as documentation for your trekking trip! Haha! 😀

(c) En route back to the car park; walk along Gillespies beach instead

When passing the bridge the second time on the way back to the car park, take a stroll along the beach instead! There is no need to literally backtrack unless you really do want to experience the Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge) one more time.

In my opinion, saunter along the beach when it is close to nightfall beats walking through the shrubs, bushes and animal poopies. Furthermore, you could have the opportunity to maybe spot one or two fur seals chillaxing by the beach too (speaking from experience)! So keep your eyes peeled like J did, because thanks to her we managed to have a second round of fur seal watching! This time it was by Gillespies Beach near the car park; so we have all the time in the world to admire it from afar without fear of being trapped in the forest without a flashlight! Yay! 😀

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Round trip:Parking Lot –> Valley –> Glacier –> And Back

Total Distance:

2.6 km (1.6 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 2 – 2.5 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

This was an impromptu trekking trip, and I was, and still very much am, very glad we did it! We had an extra full day at Fox Glacier (because there were some items on our itinerary we were not that much interested in anymore), and being in a very small town, there really wasn’t much we could do. So conferring with Google… … The journey through the valley to the glacier begun! Yay! 😀

I do not honestly know how and why I had totally missed this valley walk during my itinerary research, but this is just one of those walks that are pretty much less strenuous and you get views just as invigorating!

Less energy for greater returns? Say what now? An absolute MUST DO on the South Island of New Zealand!

 

How to get there?

The drive to the start of the Fox Glacier Valley Walk is a fairly easy one, and really straightforward! Just drive down South on Haast Highway from Fox Glacier Township, and immediately turn left before the Fox River bridge. This drive takes roughly 10 minutes.

The left turn will take you straight to a huge parking area, at the end of the road, where the landscape is already melodramatic enough! Surrounded by massive cliffs on each side, it is just so ethereal.

Imagine… … If the parking area welcomes you with such imprinting effect, even before you embark on your trek, what more when you are ON the trek? The view, then, would be imperatively even more wicked!


 

Highlights and Views

Since it was an impromptu trek, we arrived at the place in the afternoon. It wasn’t very crowded then, there were basically less than 10 cars present (including ours)? The weather conditions were to our favour, as indicated on the board at the start of the trek, so we were in great expectation for good views! So let’s spiel… …

The thing about valley walks is that it was something new to me at that time. Usually the treks I embarked on were climbing up hills in the forest, or clambering on the edge of a cliff (back in Tasmania). And typically we were pretty much surrounded by trees, bushes and scrubs half the time; only to have a rewarding view at the summit or at the end.

But valley walks were very much new fresh perspectives; and I LOVE it! Not that I don’t love the other treks I went on, but you get the gist.

WHY?

Valley walks are not convoluted. Out in the open, and not shrouded by the trees, the feeling of frivolousness as the sun rays galvanise everything on the open valley was just speechlessly amazing. The heaps of moraine that were left behind when the glacier retreated in the 60s, glistens under the light. It felt like diamond dusts were lightly smeared on the rocks, and if you would to take notice, they really do twinkle as you saunter towards the glacier end (final section of the track)!

You could see people ahead of you and behind. The glacier end is always in sight, so you could roughly gauge how far off were you. Views were not being impeded, and because it is a valley, due to the recession of the glacier, most gravel grounds were of minimal degree of steepness. It was inconceivable how easy the walk was!

The only time when the route got a little steep, and a tad more strength was required, was when we were getting closer to the glacier end. The gravels were loose underfoot, and with the steeper incline, it could get a little slippery. Good gripping shoes during such times were much appreciated.

I like the idea of how we are really minuscule in comparison to the hillsides encaging us; how massive Mother Nature is, and how the towering sides just energises me.

During the walk, we saw parents (fathers), carrying their precious on their backs as they gaited on. I would like to brood over the fact that these parents were incredibly awesome. If it was me, I would have fumbled, stumbled, and probably rolled down the steep gravel hill, causing damage everyone in my path! Haha!

And to see how stable the dads were, going up and coming back down with ease, just makes me want to applaud for their adept balancing and strength. Haha! 😀

We reached the glacier end viewpoint at about sunset. The close-to-evening breeze just calms your nerves and gives your lungs a refreshing renewal of air. And of course, catching our breaths aside, we took moments to just gawk at the glacier ice and moraine. Such an incredible sight it was!

IMG_0345

On the journey back to the parking area, we saw a bunch of children, their Mum and two other travellers huddled near. The kids were in awe by the Kea who was busy being fed by the travellers. The kids ended up feeding the Kea too, with food provided by the travellers. I don’t remember what they fed the Kea with. Judging from the picture I took, I reckon crackers?

And of course, I had to help the Kea take its selfie since it was looking right at me, right?! Haha! 😀

We also had the opportunity to take a good glance at the early 3/4 moon that rose just above the hillside. And it totally added as a nice backdrop ‘accessory’ in the picture, don’t you think so? 😀

Seeing so many things all packed in an afternoon, and considering it was an imprompt trip, I suppose this was such an eventful bonus day well spent!

 

TIPS?

1

Sunscreen

As this valley walk is an open area with no shade from the, at times, inexorable sunlight, slather on sunscreen you must! Skin peeling as the corollary of your laziness to apply sunscreen can look very unsightly in photos, I know… … Been there. 🙁

2

Check For Track Closure

Another tip, which is the MOST important, is to check if the track is close for the day due to ice collapse, flooding or rock falls before you embark on the trek!

You can do so at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office at Fox Glacier Township, or at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre at Franz Josef Township.

Click for more information on Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre

Fox Glacier Valley Walk is one of the easiest walks for the fairly able- bodies. With dramatic vista right from the beginning, and being greeted by shimmering moraines along the track, you will definitely not return to your motel blasé.

This track, I can safely say with conviction, is a MUST-ADD into your itinerary planning!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee