Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Summit Hike – Wanaka
Walks labelled as Moderate-Hard shouldn’t be underestimated. Especially if you’re walking on your own and don’t do big hikes often…
So someone like me was totally qualified to hike up to both the Diamond Lake and Lake Wanaka Lookout points and then onwards up to the Rocky Mountain Summit…
Turns out I didn’t make a mess in my pants, but I did get rather nervous. Surprisingly made it up the mountain in record time because I was scared shitless of slipping and falling into oblivion.
Diamond Lake Lookout
The walk up to the Diamond Lake lookout was pretty easy. It’s noted as 1 hour return and roughly 2 km. You get a nice view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The walks appeared pretty quiet, I didn’t really meet more than one or two people on the way up the mountain. This probably should have been the warning sign that maybe I wasn’t taking the best route. But c’mon, anyone that knows me, knows that I’ll always take the scenic route unless it is labelled as much longer than the traditional.
Lake Wanaka Lookout
Up another hour, this walk is noted as 2 hours return, 5 km. At the top of the viewpoint you get incredible views over Lake Wanaka and out to the vast mountain ranges. It’s views like these that are so special. The people that do these hikes regularly are very lucky indeed!
With the sun beaming down and a long day’s drive ahead tomorrow I was keen to keep on walking. I didn’t remember much details about the Rocky Mountain walk from the map I got from the information centre, but I’m not one to shy away even if I hate heights.
Listen for the birds as you watch the beauty in my video from this viewpoint and the hike ahead:
Rocky Mountain Summit
So as I was already on the Eastern Route, having gone out to the lookout points I figured I’d continue up the Eastern Route and enjoy the scenery on the way.
It is at this point that there aren’t any photos because I was on my hands and knees crawling around rocky bends about the width of my size 7 foot. Daring not to look down the steep bushy cliffs.
Thoughts that went through my head went something like this
‘Great, if I die here no one will know‘
‘If I slip on this rock, I’ll tumble down that bush cliff and be hidden from view‘
‘Maybe I should just wait for someone… but if I stop I’ll probably fall and what if no-one comes this way?‘
‘Maybe I should turn around… oh but screw going down this way, I’ll definitely slip’
‘This is definitely one of those moments I wish I wasn’t alone.’
Sounds like fun right?
There was a light at the end of the torture… the path joined the Western Route not far from the summit. Yay!
I figured the Western Route couldn’t be nearly as bad as the Eastern Route and at this point I didn’t care for a view, it’s not like I was looking out at the view as I scrambled up the Eastern Route anyway!
Sure enough once I decided to switch routes I spotted a few bright coloured t-shirts in the distance heading up to the summit. At least someone would hear me scream now if I fell over the side.
The Western route was still tough going, but I had my desire for safety on high so soon enough I reached the summit. At which point I went and sat in the middle as far away from the edge as possible!
There were two small groups up there, even a small kid (at which point I had to laugh at myself for being so pathetic). I had a short rest, munched a few snacks and hydrated myself. The view was beautiful. Out over the lakes, the Southern Alps and snowy mountains. It certainly took my breath away, I’m just not sure if that was because I’d scared myself shitless or if it was the pure natural beauty… lets go with the later.
Before I knew it one of the groups at the top was heading down, I quickly befriended them and followed them down the Western Route until the two routes met. They decided to head down the Eastern route and I happily refused and continued down the Western route on my own instead of potential crying in-front of them if I’d gone back down the Eastern Route.
The Lower side of the Western Route had large rocks and trees you had to get over and down, so it wouldn’t have been easy for the poor people coming up either. But it was a heck of a lot less scary for me coming down!
Upon looking at the Department of Conservation website after the walk it states the following about the Rocky Mountain Summit walk:
- A lower level circuit that takes in the Lake Wanaka viewpoint, with great views of both the lake and its islands. Sections of the track can be steep and are often slippery, even in summer. Extreme care is required. Because of ice, this track is not recommended during winter.
- An upper level circuit that winds its way to the top of 775 m Rocky Mountain. The views from here include the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana and Mount Aspiring/Tititea.
This hike was lovely and I was proud of myself for doing it. I still want to return with a 4WD and do the Rob Roy Glacier Track at some point. It’s listed as ‘Moderate fitness required’ so should be a piece of cake right? But truth be told, Wanaka has so many lovely walks to offer any nature lover. From mountains and lakes to bush and rocks.
This was the end of my stay in Wanaka, so I finished up with a French crepe by the water for dinner and a few swims. It truly is a place I’d love to live in one day or at the very least visit on a regular basis. You just don’t get natural beauty like this everyday.
To check out my YouTube New Zealand Video Playlist, check out https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrWWRaFtxZu9Slo851qGucPacodhFdcBY
For more information about the Rocky Mountain Summit hike check out:
Wonderful photos and a great post. Can’t get enough of Wanaka and like you would absolutely love to live there one day. It seems to have everything. Not sure about the challenging hike/climb though, you were pretty brave.
Brave? Haha didn’t feel like that at the time. Stunning views though, love the hikes down there
We only did the Mount Iron walk so need to go back and do a few more.