Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand lies the Crown Range Road, a journey that promises not just a drive, but an experience. As we traverse this road, we're not just moving between destinations; we're traveling through history, nature, and some of the most scenic vistas that New Zealand has to offer.
What is the Crown Range Road?
The Crown Range Road isn't just another highway; it's a testament to nature's grandeur and human perseverance. Winding through the Crown Range mountains, this road is the epitome of scenic drives, offering panoramic views that leave travelers in awe. It's not just about the destination; it's about the journey, the landscapes, the twists, and turns that make every moment on this road memorable.
History of the Crown Range Road
The Crown Range Road has witnessed the ebb and flow of time. From the gold rush of the 1860s, where the town of Cardrona buzzed with prospectors, to the present day, where it stands as a symbol of New Zealand's rich heritage. Visible remains of gold prospecting can still be seen, reminding us of a time when the quest for gold brought life to this region.
How high is the Crown Range Road?
The Crown Range Road reaches an impressive altitude, with its highest point, the Crown Range Summit, sitting at approximately 1,121 meters (3,678 feet) above sea level. This makes it the highest main road in New Zealand, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
When was the Crown Range sealed?
The Crown Range Road was sealed in the late 1990s. Before its sealing, the road was a gravel surface, which made it more challenging for travelers, especially during adverse weather conditions. The decision to seal the road was taken to improve accessibility and safety for both locals and tourists traveling between Queenstown and Wanaka.
Things to do along the Crown Range Road
Best photo spots
Every twist and turn of the Crown Range Road unveils a canvas of nature's best artwork. From the sweeping vistas of the Wakatipu Basin to the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, photographers are spoilt for choice. Notable spots include the Crown Range Summit Lookout, which offers a panoramic view of the entire region, and the historic Cardrona Hotel, a picturesque setting that harks back to yesteryears.
The Crown Range is a haven for hiking enthusiasts. Trails range from easy walks suitable for families to challenging hikes for the seasoned trekker. The Crown Range Track is a popular choice, taking hikers through alpine meadows and offering stunning views of Lake Wakatipu.
Another favourite is the Cardrona Alpine Trail, which winds through the historic gold mining areas and offers glimpses of native birdlife and flora.
Visit a winery
The Crown Range Road region, with its fertile soils and unique climate, produces some of New Zealand's finest wines. Wineries here specialize in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Rippon Vineyard is a must-visit, not just for its wines but also for its mesmerizing views of Lake Wanaka. Engage in wine tasting sessions, tour the vineyards, and learn about the intricate process of winemaking from experts in the field.
Cardrona, a relic from the gold rush era, is a step back in time. The town's rustic charm is evident in its preserved buildings and the stories they hold. The Cardrona Distillery is a modern addition, offering tours that detail the process of spirit making.
The town's iconic Cardrona Hotel, one of New Zealand's oldest pubs, is a perfect spot to relax with a drink and soak in the ambiance. Don't forget to explore the Cardrona Valley, with its remnants of gold mining operations and tales of fortunes made and lost.
Tips for driving the Crown Range Road
Driving on the Crown Range Road is an experience, but it's essential to be prepared. The road can be challenging, especially during adverse weather conditions. Always check the weather forecast, ensure your vehicle is in top condition, and most importantly, take your time to enjoy the drive.
When to visit the Crown Range
The Crown Range Road is a year-round attraction. However, to truly experience its beauty, consider visiting during the spring or autumn months when the landscapes come alive with colors.
Where to stay
Several accommodations, ranging from luxury resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts, are available along the Crown Range Road. Depending on your preference, you can choose to stay amidst nature or in the historic town of Cardrona.
The Crown Range Road is more than just a road; it's a journey through time, nature, and beauty. So, the next time you're in New Zealand, make sure to traverse this road. And if you're looking for the perfect vehicle for your journey, consider renting a campervan from Reykjavik Auto. After all, some journeys deserve more than just a drive; they deserve an experience.