Rob Roy Glacier Day Hike
Stunning Rob Roy Glacier HikeGet up close to the glacier in Mt Aspiring National Park
AT A GLANCE
- Departs: 8.30am from Queenstown or 9.30am from Wanaka
- Season: Sep – May
- Grade: Easy to moderate
- Duration: Full day with transfers from Queenstown or Wanaka
- Walking time: 3.5 – 4 hours (10km)
- Scenic drive into Mt Aspiring National Park
- Get up close to Rob Roy Glacier
- Walk through native Beech forest
- Native flora and fauna
- Stop at Lake Wanaka
- Hotel transfers from Queenstown or Wanaka
- Experienced & qualified guide
- Picnic lunch
MORE INFORMATION & ITINERARY
Rob Roy Glacier Day Hike in Mt Aspiring National Park
I’ll meet you at your accommodation and we’ll wind our way up and over the Crown Range if coming from Queenstown, past Lake Wanaka and through the Matukituki Valley, which is part of Te Wähipounamu or South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Many people don’t realize that Mt Aspiring National Park, packed with dramatic alpine scenery, sheer rock cliffs, plunging waterfalls and even glaciers nestled in native bush is less than a two-hour drive from Queenstown.
You’ll probably need some extra memory for your camera but don’t bother with a camera case — the ever-changing landscape outside the window doesn’t let up long enough to warrant ever putting it away, and that’s before we’ve even reached the trailhead.
The scenic drive culminates with a view of Wishbone Falls cascading down a sheer rock cliff at the entrance of the national park. Then from Raspberry Flats, we’ll continue on foot for a short valley walk and cross the West Matukituki River before starting a steady climb up through a small gorge alongside Rob Roy Stream.
Rob Roy Glacier itself remains hidden for most of the trail but now and then the veil of native Beech forest slips to reveal teasing glimpses of white contrasted against the blue sky. After about two hours, there’s a gradual transition to more sparse alpine vegetation, signalling we’re close to the head of the valley. Then up on a rocky clearing, the vista suddenly opens up dramatically and we’re rewarded with unobstructed views of the glacier hanging thousands of feet above us.
We are here. Time is now suspended, seemingly motionless like the glacier itself, and it’s easy to see not much has changed here since this spot was first discovered long ago. No doubt they too struggled to capture this place in words or images as they gazed up in awe at one of nature’s masterpieces. I snap a few perfunctory shots because it seems wrong not to, but before the shutter blinks we both know the excuses that will be shared with friends and family back home. “These photos don’t quite do it justice. You had to be there.”
There are simply no words or lenses capable of capturing its grandeur and tranquillity. There’s no choice but to surrender and just try to soak it all in, to savour this sliver of paradise and tuck it away in my mind’s eye for some future rainy day. Senses overloaded, we return along the same track. The journey downhill goes quicker and there’s hardly time to fully ponder what stops such a massive piece of ice from simply plummeting to the valley floor below.
No matter how many times I come out to stand at the foot of the Rob Roy Glacier, this stunning walk reminds me of just how small and insignificant we are compared to the scale of nature.
After the hike, we break up the return journey with a stop in the quaint township of Wanaka to kick off our boots and toast the day with a cold drink on the lakefront before returning to Wanaka around 4pm or Queenstown around 5pm.
What to wear and bring for a day hike
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS – Some items we may be able to provide it to you, other items can be hired in Queenstown, please contact us for more informations
- Jacket/Coat – wind and waterproof with hood
- Boots – sturdy, good fit, protected with dressing/polish
- Treking pants/trousers
- Top/ shirt – quick drying sports or hiking tops are best.
Avoid cotton as although cool in the summer, it can be cold when wet or sweaty
- Walking socks
- Warm hat, beanie or balaclava and gloves or mittens
Even in summer the weather can turn cooler in the evenings
- Mid layer pullover: fleece tops or polartec type are ideal (light and quick drying)
Cotton hoodies are not as warm and heavy when wet
- Day pack – ideally with a waterproof liner
Pack should be light, strong and comfortable approx. 20-40 litres to carry your water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellant, camera, snacks and extra clothing/ waterproof
- Drink Bottle
We can normally fill up along the way in streams so 1 litre is normally sufficient
- Personal medication if required
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, lip balm and sunhatOPTIONAL SUGGESTIONS
- Gaiters or Puttees – to keep out water and gravel
- Thermals – long sleeved top and long johns (quick drying)
The kiwi way is to wear them under shorts and t shirts
- Over trousers – waterproof and windproof, essential if you get cold quickly
- Blister plasters/band-aid or tape
Although we do carry a first aid kit too
- Camera, spare batteries and spare memory card
- Small day pack for personal items
- Waterproof jacket
- Walking shoes
- Warm clothes (layers are best)
- Insect repellent
- Water bottle
- Gaiters (optional)