Hiking Ishtmus Peak and Rocky Peak in New Zealand

Just the other day Kristina and I were talking about how our threshold of what we consider amazing has shifted over the last couple of months. A snow-capped mountain or a wild beach induced much stronger excitement back then that they do now. Other travellers will agree that as you travel and see more, it becomes progressively difficult to have these ‘Wow’ moments. It is insane how quickly you become spoiled!

If you can relate to what I am saying my recommendation to you is to go hiking Ishtmus Peak and Rocky Peak in New Zealand.

KATrippin Hiking Ishtmus Peak
Hiking Ishtmus Peak – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Ishtmus Peak 5-6h Return

If you are up for a rewarding challenge Ishtmus Peak is the one to go for. It took us just over 5 hours to complete and let me tell you it was hard work. The main reason we found it so physically challenging was because of the elevation difference. It might not be much for some, but for us 1000m elevation difference was enough to feel muscles in our legs for the next couple of days.

KATrippin Hiking Ishtmus Peak
Kristina taking a short break on the track to Ishtmus Peak – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Having said that, any reasonably fit person should be able to do it without too much trouble. You just need to take it slow. The recipe for success is a wind-proof jacket, plenty of water and loads of snacks to keep your energy levels up. You will forget your legs and muscles as soon as you reach the top anyway!

KATrippin Hiking Ishtmus Peak
Views of Lake Wanaka from the top of Ishtmus Peak – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

My last tip for those sleeping in camper vans or tents would be to stay at a little-known campsite just by Lake Hawea. Google coordinates -44.492892,169.247109 to locate it. This campsite is only a few kilometres away from where Ishtmus Peak track starts and it is completely free.

KATrippin Hiking Ishtmus Peak Campsite
Campsite very close to the starting point of Ishtmus Peak Track just by Lake Hawea – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Rocky Peak 2-3h Return

Rocky Peak is a much shorter and less physically challenging hike which should not take more than 2-3 hours to complete. The elevation difference is much smaller than Isthmus Peak too.

We enjoyed this hike because there are a couple of places where you can stop and see something different. The first stop only about 20-30 minutes away from the starting point is the Diamond Lake lookout point. Don’t get too excited just yet. The colour of water in this lake is brown and it’s shape does not resemble a diamond. It is just a name!

Another 10-15 minutes away from the Diamond Lake Lookout you will find Wanaka Lookout from which Wanaka town and lake can be seen. If you want to break the hike down or just want to take it slow that’s the place to stop for lunch.

KATrippin hiking Rocky Peak
On the way up towards Rocky Peak – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

From Wanaka Lookout, Rocky Peak is about another 20-30 minutes away. Just be very careful on this last section. The paths are extremely narrow in some places and long grass hides the steep edges very well. Where the tracks starts going up hill just after Wanaka Lookout my right leg slipped and I ended up on my bum with my right leg dangling from the edge. Luckily, I managed to maintain balance and did not sprain my ankle when this happened.

KATrippin Hiking Rocky Peak
Beautiful view of Lake Wanaka from the Rocky Peak – Photo by Andrius – January 2019

Other Hikes

There are more hikes in this area around Wanaka the most popular being Roy’s Peak. The fact it was so well known and busy actually discouraged us from doing it. I heard people saying it’s the most famous peak on Instagram but with the time (and muscle power) we had we could not do them all.

Want more? Check out my post about hiking Sealy Tarns and Hooker Valley (Lake) Track here. If you are interested in hiking Roy’s Peak Track, I would reccommend a blog post by Earthtrekkers which you can find here. The pictures of these guys are awesome!

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