Rob Roy track is a beaut. A highly accessible track enabling you to experience glaciers and alpine environments in half a day. Great reward for little work.
A spectacular drive up the Matukituki Valley, crossing fords and admiring the classic U-shaped glaciated valleys of Mount Aspiring National Park is only a prelude to this walk. After crossing the milky waters of the Matukituki River West Branch on a swingbridge, beech forest alongside a gorge ends at a bowl with high schist peaks and remnant glaciers encrusting the precipitous faces. And there’s some massive waterfalls if that wasn’t enough. Find a sunny rock for a picnic.
This is a late spring/summer/autumn only walk.
The track crosses known avalanche paths. Check with DoC before embarking on this walk.
From Wanaka follow Wanaka Mount Aspiring Road past Glendu Bay and the entrance to Treble Cone Ski Field. The road becomes unsealed as it passes the working high country stations. Watch for stock on the road, as the farms graze large cattle beasts on the roadside verges. Shepherds and dogs often muster mobs of sheep between paddocks. This is the real New Zealand.
Several fords, some of which will graze the air conditioning units of low ground-clearance vehicles, some slippery patches and narrow sections close to bluffs are obstacles that require careful negotiation. Slow down and pull over. High schist peaks encircle the branch left into the Matukituki West Branch and the carpark at Raspberry Creek. There’s a toilet and shelter here, with the start of the track signposted along a 4WD drive farm road.
Orange triangles mark the initial section through farmland before a crossing of the Matukituki West Branch via a sturdy swing bridge. Entering the shady beech forest the track starts to climb, past a viewpoint up the valley towards Cascade Saddle. Gushing waters of the Rob Roy Stream have incised a deep gorge in the schist with strata of quartz evident in the rock. A milky opalescence in the water due to glacial silt gives clues to the water’s origins.
Cross a slip, with huge boulders perched precariously above, before a section climbs up and over a spur to the Lower Lookout. These first views are surpassed when the track exits the forest (with a toilet thunder box close by) to a viewing area under Rob Roy Glacier, Glengyle Peak, Rob Roy Peak and the seracs of the remnant Rob Roy Glacier. Plumes of spray peel off the massive waterfalls and occasional rock falls pierce the soothing sounds of running water.
It is dangerous to go much further than the rocks at the track end.
Like most of the area, the Haast Schist is a metamorphosed sedimentary rock, laid down as thick layers of mud and marine sand on the Pacific Ocean bed around 250 million years ago. As the weight of overlying layers accumulated the rocks were depressed into areas of great depth, where increased pressure and heat metamorphosed the layers to the mica-schists of today. These blocks of rock were later upthrust and levelled by erosional processes during Mesozoic times. As the rock reformed it was inter-bedded with layers of quartz. These veins not only provide the mesmerising linear patters, but contained the gold on which later exploration of the land was grounded.
The mountain ranges we tramp through today had their genesis around 5 million years ago. River systems developed along lines of weakness in the rock and have since been exaggerated by a series of glacial advances.
In later spring, look for the beech strawberries on the lower sections of track. These resemble golf balls, and are the fruiting bodies of a fungus which has had association with the roots of beech trees since Gondwanaland times over 80 million years ago. The same species is found in Chile.
Listen for the screech of kea.
Long before European exploration, South Island Maori had settled at the mouth of the nearby Dart Valley, using the strategic location as a stopping off point in their search for pounamu. Archaeological remains from the 1300s at the mouth of the Dart River include a series of preserved mounds, accurately portraying the structure of the early dwellings. Slab paved pathways connected the rudimentary ‘houses’ and drainage ditches controlled the water flows. The site is also significant, as examples of flaked hammer dressed Routeburn greenstone were found, along with middens containing moa bones.
Settlement of inland Otago took place from the late 1700s, spurred on by the search for moa. Nearby areas were likely inhabited in the early 1800s by Ngai Tahu, who had displaced Ngati Mamoe and Waitaha from the region.
South Island ▷ Wanaka Region ▷ Wanaka Township
Showing 13 reviews of 123.
Best hike for glaciers in New Zealand. Go to the upper lookout. Long gravel road (30km) is worth doing every metre.
Wonderful track. Great views, swinging bridge, could make it over with a child (needed a bit more time as some parts are steep).
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3-4 hour return track to (in our opinion) the best glacier in New Zealand. Walk through amazing forest by a crystal blue river to a stunning, clean and impressive glacier and 300m waterfall.
May 2017 Checked with locals in the outdoor shops, DOC and the information office for advice about taking our campervan along the road to Raspberry Flat for the walk to Rob Roy Glacier. There had been some heavy rain and we didn't know the depth of the stream crossings. It turned out the issue wouldn't have been the depth of the water so much as the longer wheel base of our campervan may not have made over the dips where the streams flowed. There was no shuttle service running that day so we hired a small 4WD which, for the one day rental, was much cheaper than if we had used the shuttle for two of us. So glad we did. 1. we could drive at our pace and stop whenever we wanted to. 2. the shuttle pick-up allows 4 hours for the walk and we took longer. 3. still not sure if our van would not have got hung up on a couple of those crossings towards the end of the road. We picked up hikers who had left their vans a couple of kms from Raspberry Flat carpark.
Road from Wanaka was a picturesque drive around the lake, then up the remote valley through farms and wandering livestock and the mountains growing on either side. There is 55 kms of gravel road with 9 stream crossings but only the last 2 or 3 dips are a bit dicey for some vehicles.
Some people have noted it is a 3 hour hike, but we took our lunch and spent quite a while at the top so 4-5 hours is more realistic if you want to take it all in. We are moderate fitness in the 55-60 age group. There are some steeper sections of the track through the beech forest and after a couple of hours you pop out into the open ground at the base of the glacier. A toilet is just before the top of the track. DOC keep tracks and facilities so well maintained. It was about 8 degrees at the carpark and about 3 degrees at the glacier. We cooled off quite a bit eating our lunch so bring layers. The glacier cracked and groaned to keep us enthralled. This was a brilliant day out and a really great walk for variety in scenery and terrain.
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The best tramp I have done in New Zealand. Begins in farmland surrounded by mountains. The track follows Rob Roy Stream up through forest and ends with a breathtaking view of the Glacier.
The drive over unsealed roads and multiple stream crossings is just a taste for the beautiful scenery you will pass on this walk. My favourite New Zealand walk so far.
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Fantastic walk with excellent views of the glacier. A very popular 1/2 day walk in New Zealand. Only negative was the long gravel track to get there with no warning beforehand.
Beautiful forest, easy to find, toilets at the park are tidy.
Easy to find, beautiful forest, the track was well indicated, toilets at the parking area and at the top.
Steep walk to the top but well worth it. DOC ranger working hard on the track to keep it maintained. Rent a 4 x 4, numerous fiords to cross on approach.
Great afternoon walk. I have had really wet weather but enjoyed it nonetheless. DOC worker was doing maintenance on the track, gave us friendly advice.
Relatively easy walk through the forest with a stunning view of the glacier at the end. The road to get there is not the best but offers beautiful views and is totally worth it!
Great hike. The DOC guys work hard to keep the track in great shape. I recommend going to the top lookout. It is very remote.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍