Diamond Lake walk and Rocky Mountain summit track are two separate hiking trails near Wanaka that can be easily merged in one day hike. The Diamond Lake track is a relatively easy 1.5-hour return walk that takes you through native bushland to a lookout point over picturesque Diamond Lake. The Rocky Mountain track is a bit more challenging 3-4 hour return walk that takes you up to the summit of Rocky Mountain at 775 meters height. With stunning views over Lake Wanaka and the peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park, this is one of the best short walks near Wanaka. You can easily combine these two walks into one 7.1-km loop trail, read in our complete guide how and all other things you need to know!
How to get to Diamond Lake Wanaka & Rocky Mountain trailhead
The trailhead of Diamond Lake walk and Rocky Mountain Summit track are located along the Mount Aspiring Road on a 15 minute drive from Wanaka. The track starts from the car park at the end of Diamond Lake Road, which is well signposted from the main road. Here you enter the Diamond Lake Conservation Area which is an area of 7,500 hectares and includes Diamond Lake, Rocky Mountain, and several other nearby peaks, lakes, and valleys.
Diamond Lake walk & Rocky Mountain summit track key facts
Before we dive into the details about the Diamond Lake walk & Rocky Mountain summit track, let’s first have a look at the key facts of the trail. As mentioned before, there are several options to do this trail as two hikes can be merged into one. Here are the options:
- Diamond Lake Circuit Track: 45 min return, 2.5 km
- Diamond Lake Lookout: 1 hr return, 2 km
- Lake Wānaka Lookout: 2 hr return, 5 km
- Rocky Mountain Summit Track: 3 hr return, 7 km, 500 meters incline
Below you will see the map of the complete trail as shown on Google Maps. Please make sure to visit the DOC website to check if any parts of the trail are closed. It can happen that trees fall which makes a part of the trail inaccessible. This means you can still visit the lookout points, but only via one side of the trail.
Best time to do the Diamond Lake walk & Rocky Mountain summit track
Before you set off to the Rocky Mountain summit track it is important to be aware of a few things. The path along the west side can be extremely muddy and therefore slippery after heavy rain. The path can even turn into a small waterfall which could make it challenging to navigate.
Because of this I wouldn’t recommend hiking to Rocky Mountain Summit after a few days of heavy rain. Until Diamond Lake Lookout you’ll be fine, but after that the trail is less maintained.
In terms of the best time of the day we always advice to start as early as possible. You will not only have a more quiet experience but especially in the spring and summer months sunshine can be harsh. As there is no natural shade after Diamond Lake lookout, you will be walking exposed to the sun which could get very hot on a warm summer day.
Diamond Lake walk & Rocky Mountain summit track experience
The Diamond Lake walk and Rocky Mountain summit track is a fun and diversified trail with all sorts of views along the way. The first short part is through native bushland, then you’ll arrive at Diamond Lake viewpoint, then Lake Wanaka viewpoint, and from Rocky Mountain summit you can look out over the Southern Alps. With plenty of picnic stops along the way, the Diamond Lake walk & Rocky Mountain summit track is a great short walk near Wanaka. But there are a few things you need to know which I’ll explain below!
Diamond Lake Lookout walk
The first part from the car park to Diamond Lake goes uphill immediately, but after this short incline the trail completely flattens until you get to Diamond Lake shore. From here you will even get a great perspective of the dramatic mountains and waterfalls coming down the ridges.
Shortly after this flat part you will get to the shore of Diamond Lake with nice see throughs between the trees.
The track then splits with a sign for the Lake Circuit to the right and Rocky Mountain and Lake Lookouts going straight. Here you will follow the path going up unless you want to add the Diamond Lake Circuit to the hike.
After taking the stairs up you get to Diamond Lake Lookout which is a platform overlooking stunning Diamond Lake and the surrounding forest and mountains. From here the track continues to Lake Wanaka Lookout and Rocky Mountain Summit.
Lake Wānaka Lookout
From Diamond Lake Lookout you’ll continue the path going up for about 150 meters before reaching a junction. Here you can choose to take the Eastern or Western Track to the Rocky Mountain summit.
The Eastern Track has a great view over Lake Wanaka and takes you to the Lake Wanaka lookout, so I recommend taking this path if you have clear views.
When continuing on the Eastern track, about 400 meters later you’ll get to another junction which takes your to Lake Wanaka Lookout. This short 800 meters return detour is definitely worth it and will only take about 10 minutes. You will cross private land here which is clearly signposted, so make sure to stick to the trail.
At the lookout point is a bench which is the perfect place for a quick break. This is the only bench you will find along the trail up to Rocky Mountain Summit, so if you prefer to have lunch without sitting on the rocks, then this is the best place to do!
Heading up to Rocky Mountain Summit
After the quick break at Lake Wanaka viewpoint it’s time to continue further up towards Rocky Mountain Summit. You will backtrack the short part over private land until you get to the junction where you head upwards.
From now on there is a bit of scrambling involved along a very narrow path. I want to stress that this part of the trail needs all your attention as you’re walking along the ridge of the mountain without a railing. The path is seriously narrow and one slip can bring you in a risky situation.
No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen.
A slip during hiking is made before you realize it, and the consequences can be bigger than you want to think of.
We are very happy with SafetyWing and highly recommend getting an insurance with them!
After the beautiful but narrow switchbacks you are making your way up to Rocky Mountain Summit. There is another stunning view on your right just before you make the final meters up to the summit.
Rocky Mountain Summit
Once you’ve made it up to Rocky Mountain Summit you can enjoy the 360 degree views of the Southern Alps and Mount Aspiring. This large rocky area is perfect for a picnic if you have good weather.
We watched the paraglider taking off from Rocky Mountain Summit and sat here for about 30 minutes eating our lunch before heading down via the Western Track.
Going back down to the car park via the Western track is a bit more walking over grassland and through the forest at the last part. To be honest, this part of the trail was a little less exciting than the Eastern track, but the views on the surrounding mountains were still stunning of course!
In the forest the path gets a bit more interesting with slippery rocks which can turn into a small waterfall after heavy rain. Be careful here! And it gets even funnier after a couple of hundred metres. Here the path is a bit washed out with a very muddy and steep descent. But luckily there are lots of branches and roots to hold onto. Nevertheless you should take extra care here.
After all, both trails have their challenges or risks. But we enjoyed the Eastern track much more because of the stunning lake views.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads. We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car! The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower or not because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!
Best tours around Wanaka
Wānaka is a popular ski and summer alpine town which is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures. Closely located to Mount Aspiring National Park there are plenty of tours going from Wanaka to explore this dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. From scenic flights, jet boating, parasailing to hiking and biking, there is an activity for everyone. Find here the best tours in Wanaka.
Find here the best Wanaka tours on Viator
Scenic flight Self-guided Hike and Jet Boat Ride
This action-packed tour lets you explore Mount Aspiring National Park by plane, boat and on foot. Soar over the snow capped mountains during a scenic flight, hike along the banks of the Siberia River, then hop aboard for a thrilling jet boat ride along the Wilkin River.
→ Book here your Scenic flight Self-guided Hike and Jet Boat Ride tour in Wanaka
Wine Tour with Wine Tasting and lunch from Wanaka
On this afternoon tour you will visit four boutique wineries in one of New Zealand’s most popular wine regions. You will learn the secrets behind these wines from the winemakers themselves, and stop at one winery for a gourmet food with wine matching. Transport from your accommodation in Wanaka is included.
→ Book here your Wine Tour with Wine Tasting and lunch from Wanaka
Wanaka Lake boat ride and 4×4 jeep Mountain Adventure
Get away from the crowds on this boat ride and 4×4 day trip from Wanaka. Start with a boat ride across Lake Wanaka and then you’ll hop aboard the 4×4 vehicle and drive up into the mountains. Your guide will tell you stories from Otago’s pioneer history and the gold rush era. Enjoy a delicious picnic with spectacular lake and mountain views.
→ Book here your Wanaka Lake boat ride and 4×4 jeep Mountain Adventure
Half-Day Level 2 Waterfall Climbing from Wanaka
Get the adrenaline pumping with this half day adventurous tour. Climb steel ladders and cross high, narrow bridges over waterfalls, swim in hidden natural pools and enjoy a picnic lunch beside beautiful falls. While no experience is required and full safety briefings are given, this trip is best suited to active travelers who are sure-footed and unafraid of heights.
→ Book here your Half-Day Level 2 Waterfall Climbing from Wanaka
Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk Tour from Wanaka
Speed along the Matukituki River in Mount Aspiring National Park during this exhilarating jet-boat ride. Admire spectacular landscapes, then hike past forests, waterfalls, and glacier-fed streams before ending your tour.
→ Book here your Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk Tour from Wanaka
Feel free like a bird and fly high above Lake Wanaka during this single or tandem flight.
Riverside Biking Tour Lake Wanaka
Go on a stunning guided bike ride along the banks of one of NZ’s most beautiful and powerful rivers. Beautiful vistas and plenty of photo opportunities make this a must do trip for hike and nature lovers. A medium level of fitness is required for this 10 kilometre ride.
Best places to stay in Wanaka
Wānaka is a super nice alpine town to stay and a great base to explore the beauty of Mount Aspiring National Park. With stunning views on Lake Wānaka and the surroundings mountain peaks, there is plenty of choice in self contained apartments, vacation homes or hotels. Find here the best places to stay in Wanaka.
Lakeside Luxury 2 Bedroom Apartment
This gorgeous 2 bedroom apartment is a home away from home with all the amenities you need and a stunning view on Lake Wanaka. With a fully equipped kitchen including dishwasher, a patio with incredible mountain and lake views, a shared indoor pool and closely located to Wanaka town, this luxury apartment is everything you need.
→ Book here your stay at Lakeside Luxury 2 Bedroom Apartment
The Edgewater Hotel is great value for money with studios that have stunning mountain and lake views. With a day spa, sauna, tennis court and a a restaurant and cafe, there is nothing you will miss during your stay at the Edgewater Hotel.
Located on a 15 minute drive from Wanaka town, Hawea Hotel is a great budget friendly option. You can still stay close to Wanaka and have lake views, but then on Lake Hawea. All hotel rooms, as well as the on-site restaurant and bar, feature beautiful lake and mountain views. The rooms include a flat-screen TV, private bathroom, a desk and a small seating area.
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Diamond lake & Rocky Mountain walk in Wanaka. Make sure to put this awesome hike on your New Zealand South Island itinerary!
There are many amazing other things to do and places to visit on the South Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides and read more!
Isthmus Peak hike – All You Need to Know!
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Rob Roy Glacier hike – The Complete Guide
30 best things to do in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide
16 best hikes in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide
12 best Queenstown helicopter tours
10 best wine tours in Queenstown
Queenstown Hill walk – The Complete Guide
Ben Lomond track – The Complete Guide
Moke Lake loop track & viewpoint – The Complete Guide
Bobs Cove nature walk – The Complete Guide
20 best things to do in Glenorchy – The Ultimate Guide
Glenorchy walkway & lagoon track – The Complete Guide
Earnslaw Burn glacier valley and waterfalls – The Complete Guide
Fiordland National Park
20 best things to do in Milford Sound – The Complete Guide
Milford Sound Cruise – The Complete Guide
Lake Marian track – The Complete Guide
Mirror Lakes New Zealand – The Complete Guide
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