Nearest town: Wanaka, Otago
Type of track: there and back
Official distance: 10km return
Official time: 3-4 hours return
Jenny’s time: about 6 hours, including lunch, photos, and a nap at the glacier
Toilets: at Raspberry Flat and near the end of the track
Tips: Check road conditions before you go. And go in the morning to get the best photos. In the afternoon the sun will be behind the glacier!
“After a tedious climb, we at last saw the head of the gorge, a wonderful sight on which not many eyes have gazed. It is closed by a semi-circle of cliffs, precipitous and black. And wedged, as it were, between three mountain peaks, lies an enormous glacier. Not a long river of ice but a mighty mass of ice, breaking off sharp at the top of the stupendous peaks.”
-A. Maud Moreland, 1911
I wouldn’t call the Rob Roy Glacier track a tedious climb these days. Back then there was no trail, and Maud and her companions had to cut through dense bush and scramble up and along the sides of the mountains. Now it’s an easy hike of maybe 2 hours each way, tops.
To get here it’s a good hour’s drive from Wanaka, 54km down a mostly gravel road.
Be warned, there are several streams to ford on this road, which in the summer shouldn’t be a big deal but you probably want to check with the DOC office in Wanaka before going, especially if it’s been raining a lot. And the fords are near the end of the road, so getting that far and then discovering you can’t go any further would be incredibly disappointing!
From the Raspberry Flat car park the track goes along the river and then crosses it at a bridge. Just before the bridge crossing the track splits; if you take the left fork it’s a couple of hours walk to Aspiring Hut, in case you want an alternative.
After crossing the bridge the track winds steadily upwards along the side of the hill up the valley before turning into a side gorge after a pretty viewpoint.
The path continues upwards through the forest and along a stream, giving sneaky glimpses of the glacier as you go.
Be warned, when you get to what looks like a dried up riverbed (or maybe not dried up, depending on how much it’s been raining!) the track keeps going across it and down a bit. I got there and was taking a few pictures when a family came along, saw me and thought that was the end of the track! Keep going!
From here it’s not much further, and you find yourself at an open amphitheatre-like area where there are information signs and plenty of warm, sunny rocks to sit on. It’s a gorgeous place to have lunch and relax for a while, admiring the view of the glacier and its many waterfalls.
On your way back from Raspberry Flat car park there’s a beautiful waterfall you can see from the road. If you want to get closer you can cross a couple of fields and streams. Be sure to say hi to the sheep!
Sticking my feet in the water was a wonderfully refreshing way to end the day!