How to hike Rob Roy Glacier Track in New Zealand

The Rob Roy Glacier track is a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) return hike in Mount Aspiring National Park that takes you to a dramatic alpine landscape that includes snowfields, glaciers, river valleys and waterfalls. This breathtaking hike near Wanaka includes all the nature elements that is New Zealand in our opinion. Lush native beech forest, gushing waterfalls, crystal clear glacier rivers, sheer rock cliffs, dramatic alpine landscapes and a hanging glacier. The Rob Roy Glacier trail is one of the most beautiful hikes near Wanaka and even of the whole South Island of New Zealand. We highly recommend putting this stunning New Zealand hike on your list. Find in this complete guide everything you need to know! 

About Rob Roy Glacier

Rob Roy Glacier is a glacier located in the Mount Aspiring National Park on the South Island of New Zealand. It is named after the Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor, who was known for his daring exploits and love for the outdoors.

The Rob Roy Glacier is a permanent ice field that is fed by snowfall and is located at an elevation of 2,606 meters (8,550 feet). Via the Rob Roy Glacier track you walk through the forest towards the area of the upper lookout. Surrounded by gushing waterfalls from the sheer cliffs, glacier fed rivers and native forest, this places gives a truly enchanting feeling. Its beauty and majesty are a testament to the power of nature and the awe-inspiring landscapes that New Zealand offers. 


How to get to Rob Roy Glacier track 

Located in remote Mount Aspiring National Park, the easiest way to get to the trailhead of Rob Roy Glacier track is by car. The destination you’ll have to type into Google Maps is Raspberry Creek Carpark, which is the start and ending point of the hike. The car park is located around 50 km / 30 miles from Wanaka and takes about an hour and 20 minutes drive to get there.

From Wanaka, take the Wanaka – Mount Aspiring Road (also known as the Matukituki Valley Road) for approximately 60 minutes. The last 30 km / 18 miles of the drive is on a gravel road which slows down your journey a bit. Another very important thing to know before you go is that you’ll have to cross some rivers so renting a car with high clearance is highly recommended. Be extra cautious after heavy rainfall, because then the small rivers can get bigger and deeper making it more dangerous to cross.

Once you arrive at the car park, you will see the trailhead to the Rob Roy Glacier Track clearly signposted. There are public toilets and information panels available. 

If you don’t have a car, you can also book a guided tour to the Rob Roy Glacier Track. Several tour companies in Wanaka and Queenstown offer guided hikes to the glacier, which typically include transportation to and from the trailhead.


Best time to hike Rob Roy Glacier Track

One of the most important things you should keep in mind when hiking Rob Roy Glacier trail is that you want to have clear views at the lookout. With too much overcast Rob Roy Glacier is likely covered in clouds, making it difficult to see the actual hanging glacier. 

If you can’t do the hike on another day and it is a bit overcast, then try to be patient until the clouds create some open patches. For example, when we hiked the trail it was raining on the way to Rob Roy Glacier lookout. It then slowly started to clear up, and after about 30-40 minutes of “waiting”, which involved eating our lunch and resting, the glacier got more and more visible. 

If you can time to hike Rob Roy Glacier track on a day with clear blue skies you’ll be in for a treat with great visibility! 

Best months to hike Rob Roy Glacier Track

Overall the best months to hike the Rob Roy Glacier Track is during the summer months of December through February. The weather is then generally mild and the days are longer. During this time, the track is likely to be drier, making it easier to navigate.

However, the weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, and it is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before setting out on your hike. It is also important to note that during the summer months, the track can be quite busy. Particularly during weekends and public holidays.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider hiking the Rob Roy Glacier Track during the shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May). During these times, the weather can still be mild, and the scenery can be particularly beautiful as the leaves change color in autumn.

During the winter months of June to August, the track is likely to be covered in snow and ice. This can make the hiking conditions more challenging as the track can be slippery and hazardous. If you plan to hike during the winter, it is important to be properly equipped and prepared for the conditions.


Rob Roy Glacier track key facts 

Before we dive into the details about the Rob Roy Glacier walk, let’s first have a look at the key facts of the trail so you’re well prepared!  

Rob Roy Glacier track distance and duration: The 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) return trip takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete. Depending on how long you spend at the different lookout points of course! 

Rob Roy Glacier track difficulty and incline: The track is graded as intermediate, which means that it is suitable for people with a moderate level of fitness and hiking experience. You gain around 410 meters (1,345 feet) of elevation along the Rob Roy track. 


What to expect along the Rob Roy Glacier track  

Once you’ve parked your car, had a quick sanitary stop and laced up your hiking shoes, it’s time to head off to the trail. 

The Rob Roy Glacier track is very clearly signposted and even though there are other hiking trails in the area, it’s not confusing which path to follow to Rob Roy Glacier. 

Follow the gravel path along the West Matukituki River until you get to the first swing bridge crossing the river which takes you into the forest. Don’t forget to look around you as the views of the valley and turquoise river are otherworldly. 


From here the trail climbs steadily through the forest as you gain elevation up into the mountainside. As you head up there are stunning valley views with the ice-capped mountains in the distance behind you. 

The trail then continues for around 3.5 km / 2.2 miles through the forest until you get to the staircase taking you further up in the valley. You will then get to the lower lookout which will give you expansive views of Rob Roy Glacier on a clear day. There is a bench where you can have a break and take in these stunning views. 


Rob Roy Glacier Upper lookout

The track then continues for another 20-30 minutes until you reach the upper lookout above the tree line. During this part of the trail, you are walking right along the river, with waterfall and glacier views out in the distance. 


The upper lookout point is a vast area of a tussock valley surrounded by sheer rock cliffs with gushing waterfalls. On a clear day, you’re able to see the complete Rob Roy Glacier which is a spectacular sight. 

We arrived at the upper lookout point when it was moody. And although we only saw patches of Rob Roy Glacier due to the cloud coverage, it was a spectacular sight and gave the feeling as if we had arrived in another world.

The moss-covered rocks, low-hanging clouds, glacier-fed waterfalls and ice-capped mountains looming underneath the clouds felt like a scene out of a fairytale.

We couldn’t stop taking pictures, so here you can see a selection of some images we took at Rob Roy Glacier. We hope you enjoy it!


How to get around in New Zealand 

To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a carcampervan 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 from Wanaka to explore this dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. From scenic flights, jet boating, and 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

Find here the best Wanaka tours on GetYourGuide

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


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

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 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


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

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


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 hiking and nature lovers. A medium level of fitness is required for this 10-kilometre ride.

→ Book here your Riverside Biking Tour around Lake Wanaka

Wanaka Parasailing

Feel free like a bird and fly high above Lake Wanaka during this single or tandem flight.

→ Book here your Wanaka parasailing activity


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 surrounding 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 Lakeview apartment is a home away from home with all the amenities you need. With a fully equipped kitchen including a dishwasher, a patio with incredible mountain and lake views, a shared indoor pool and close location to Wanaka town, this luxury apartment is everything you need.

→ Book here your stay at Lakeside Luxury 2 Bedroom Apartment

Lakeside Luxury 2 Bedroom Apartment
Lakeside Luxury 2 Bedroom Apartment pool

Edgewater Hotel

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.

→ Book here your stay at Edgewater Hotel Wanaka

Edgewater Hotel

Hawea 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, a private bathroom, a desk and a small seating area.

→ Book here your stay at Hawea Hotel


More New Zealand travel guides

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Rob Roy Glacier track. Make sure to put this incredible 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.


22 best things to do in Wanaka – The Ultimate Guide

15 best hikes in Wanaka – The Complete Guide

Best places to stay in Wanaka – The Ultimate Guide

Diamond Lake & Rocky Mountain Summit track Wanaka

Roys Peak Hike – The Complete Guide

Isthmus Peak Track – The Complete Guide

Fiordland National Park

20 best things to do in Milford Sound – The Complete Guide

Best Milford Sound Cruise – The Complete Guide

Lake Marian track – The Complete Guide

Mirror Lakes New Zealand – The Complete Guide

Key Summit track – The Complete Guide

20 best things to do in Te Anau – The Complete Guide


30 best things to do in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

16 best hikes in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

10 best wine tours in Queenstown – The Complete Guide

12 best helicopter tours in Queenstown – The Complete Guide

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

Mount Cook National Park

20 best things to do in Mount Cook National Park

12 best Mt Cook walks – The Ultimate Guide

Hooker Valley track – The Complete Guide

Sealy Tarns track – The Complete Guide

Tasman Glacier viewpoint – The Complete Guide


20 best things to do in Glenorchy – The Complete Guide

Glenorchy walkway & lagoon track – The Complete Guide

Earnslaw Burn glacier valley and waterfalls – The Complete Guide

Franz Josef Glacier Country

Best Franz Josef heli hike tours –  All You Need to Know

15 best Franz Josef walks – The Ultimate Guide

Franz Josef Glacier walk – The Complete Guide

Roberts Point Track – All You Need to Know

Hokitika Gorge walk – The Complete Guide

Fox Glacier walk & Walking on Fox Glacier Guide

Lake Matheson – The Complete Guide

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