Wanaka's Roys Peak Track reopened last week after being closed for lambing but already the perennial issues of illegal parking, freedom camping and track congestion are back.
The 100-space car park at the start of the track 6km from Wanaka township on Mt Aspiring Rd was full before 9am yesterday.

By 4pm, vehicles were illegally parked on both sides of Mt Aspiring Rd up to half a kilometre north of the car park.

French tourists Melanie Blairvacq and Florian Maimi said they had arrived at the car park at 3am in the hope of ''being alone'' on the hike but they found 40 others on the summit at sunrise.

By 9am the Roys Peak access car park was full. Photo / Suppied
By 9am the Roys Peak access car park was full. Photo / Suppied

''On the way back down we saw so many coming up the track and a lot of them didn't have proper hiking shoes, one person was wearing flip flops and we saw a mother with a baby in a backpack who had no water bottle or anything,'' Ms Blairvacq said.

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''People just want to go up to get the instagram picture and then that is it,'' she said.

The five to seven-hour, 16km return trip was one of the Department of Conservation's most popular day walks.

The view from the summit has the reputation of being ''the most instagrammed spot in New Zealand''.

Roys Peak in Wanaka has become synonymous with the queues at the top. Photo / Reddit
Roys Peak in Wanaka has become synonymous with the queues at the top. Photo / Reddit

For the year October 2018 to the end of September 2019, Doc recorded 81,350 walkers on the Roys Peak Track.

The car park and walk are managed by Doc but Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman Jack Barlow said the council's freedom camping ambassadors visited the car park every few days to educate visitors about ''the dos and don'ts'' for the car park, and hand out a new Responsible Camping leaflet.

In spite of record numbers, visitor growth is slowing at many tourist hot spots. Photo / Supplied
In spite of record numbers, visitor growth is slowing at many tourist hot spots. Photo / Supplied

Earlier this week, Wanaka police reported issuing 37 fines in one day to vehicles parked outside the Roys Peak car park.

Yesterday morning, the Otago Daily Times spoke to several drivers and occupants of cars parked on Mt Aspiring Rd and none of them knew they were parked illegally.

The number of visitors on the one day walk has grown year upon year, from just under 60,000 walkers two years making Roys peak synonymous with queues at the summit.

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Roys Peak above Lake Wanaka is bucking the trend of slowing visitor numbers. Photo / File
Roys Peak above Lake Wanaka is bucking the trend of slowing visitor numbers. Photo / File

Elsewhere in New Zealand the Tongariro Alpine Crossing saw 142000 walkers last year, more than the total number visitors to the Great Walks.

However, this huge number still represents a slowing growth of visitor numbers at just 1 per cent growth on last year, down from 54 per cent.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing saw over 14000 visitors last year. Photo / File, Barry Hooper
Tongariro Alpine Crossing saw over 14000 visitors last year. Photo / File, Barry Hooper

Visitor growth to popular regions Franz Josef Glacier and Milford Sound have also slowed to a tenth of previous rates - down to 3 per cent from 38 and 34 per cent respectively. This might be in part due to a saturation of these locations and the awareness of issues of overcrowding.

Although this is a trend that the photogenic and easily accessibly Roys Peak track appears to be bucking.

With additional reporting by staff

Day Walks Visitor Data. Source: DOC 28 Feb 2019
Day Walks Visitor Data. Source: DOC 28 Feb 2019