3 hour return
There are many impressive hiking opportunities around Wanaka.
Its stunning location means that you are spoiled for views everywhere you go.
But, if you’re looking for a walk that has all of the reward for less of the effort, I highly recommend Rocky Mountain’s summit track.
The track starts at Diamond Lake Conservation Area car park, 18.5km west of Wanaka.
Get ready for a bit of a climb and some incredible scenery!
The first part of the hike takes you to Diamond Lake,and then to the lookout above it.
The track is pretty easy to start with and within about 10 minutes you’ll be walking along the lake edge.
There is a path that leads all the way around the lake for those who don’t wish to climb. This then rejoins the same track leading back to the car park.
To continue upwards, take the left path when the track forks.
There is then a pretty steep climb via many stairs up the side of the rock face, which eventually comes out at a lookout point directly above the lake.
Already, you’ll be treated to awesome views of the surrounding mountains.
Rocky Mountain climb
After the lookout, you can either head towards Lake Wanaka lookout, or keep climbing to the top of Rocky Mountain.
If you’re already planning on heading for the summit, I suggest skipping the Lake Wanaka lookout, as the 360 degree views from the top are even better.
You’ll come to another junction a bit further along, where you can choose to take the Western Track or the Eastern Track to the top.
Both tracks come out at the summit so you can take one on the way up and the other on the way back down.
We chose to ascend on the Western Track.
This passes by sheer rock faces as well as open grassland and climbs steadily higher. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for photos, as well.
Eventually, we reached the top of Rocky Mountain and took a well-deserved rest as we gazed out at the majestic scenery before us.
From the summit you can see the Southern Alps and Mount Aspiring, as well as Lake Wanaka from a different perspective.
I love to just sit in awe at how incredibly beautiful New Zealand is.
The great thing about this walk is that it’s not as common as a lot of others in the area, so we didn’t see too many people along the way.
Once we were ready to move on, we took the track that starts leading down in the direction of Lake Wanaka.
The path hadn’t been obvious to us from the summit but we’d seen other people heading that way and soon found ourselves on the Eastern Track.
This track is not as well-marked as the Western Track and we did end up heading in the wrong direction at one point before we realised our mistake.
The Eastern Track also gets very narrow and slippery in parts, so do be careful.
Once you reach where the Western Track branches off, you’ll recognise where you are and you’ll be able to retrace your steps back down to the Diamond Lake lookout and back to the car park.
For an extra bit of variety, we walked around Diamond Lake on the short track I mentioned earlier.
Altogether, the hike takes about 3 hours to get up and back to the car park, depending on how often you stop for photos!
I’m so glad that I did this hike, as I didn’t get to do as much walking in the Wanaka area as I had hoped.
But this one has been a definite favourite of the shorter walks I’ve done in New Zealand.
With views over lakes, mountains, waterfalls and even glacial areas, what’s not to love?
As always, make sure you take good sturdy footwear and plenty of water on this hike.
Have you visited Wanaka? Is this now on your list of hikes to do in the area? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Whispering Falls: Nelson’s stunning day hike
- Aoraki/Mount Cook: Hooker Valley Track
- Day hike essentials: what to pack
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