The Crown Range Road has to be one of the best driving experiences in the world. Driving through New Zealand has been one of the most memorable adventures since I've started travelling the world. I'm a keen driver and having the opportunity to take the car on vast, empty roads were sheer joy. Kiwis are incredibly considerate on the road, and that includes trucks too. The motorways have passing lanes and slow vehicles are always quick to pull over and let you go.
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The Crown Range - New Zealand's Best Driving Road - Contents
Why the Crown Range Road
Not only I had the chance to live the dream and drive on long, well-defined roads, but I was also surrounded by raw natural beauty and memorable landscape. It's hard not to stop ever so often, breathe in New Zealand's fresh air and get lost in the picturesque views.
Everywhere you look, there is something outstanding that will catch your eye. Mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, glaciers, you name it. The Crown Range Road is no exception as it honestly comes with outstanding views and challenging hairpin turns. Everything which any driving enthusiast will love.
Meet the Crown Range Road - Wanaka to Queenstown
Although I loved driving through New Zealand's South Island, my main highlight was the drive between Wanaka and Queenstown. I picked the Crown Range Road based on the recommendation of a local from Hokitika. First, you need to know that Crown Range Road is the highest main road in New Zealand.
Second, you need to be a good driver to take up this challenge, as the Crow Range Road can pose certain difficulties, especially for the weak hearted. Go slow and stay alert. Needless to say, the Crown Range Road is New Zealand's best road trips. As a driving enthusiast, I couldn't help but smile throughout the journey.
Information about the Crown Range
The Crown Range Road lies between Wanaka and Queenstown. We approached it from the North, on our way to Queenstown, but most people tend to do it the other way around. The Crown Range road is the highest main road in New Zealand, as it reaches an altitude of 1121 metres. Pretty awesome, right? It can get fairly busy during summer time and during winter, it can get snowy and icy, so make sure you check the road conditions before embarking on this journey.
Allow plenty of time for driving between Wanaka and Queenstown, as taking the Crown Range Road will take longer than the alternative route via Cromwell. The views are so breathtaking, you will want to stop often and take that camera out to make new memories. You might also encounter keas - New Zealand's mountain parrots.
Make sure to stop at the Crown Terrace and admire Arrowtown from above. You can see all the way to the Remarkables, Queenstown's famed mountain range. This is yet another chance to see New Zealand from the top. It looks beautiful, doesn't it?
Is The Crown Range Road Safe?
If you are a driving enthusiast, with a few years of experience, you should be fine. Always check the road conditions before setting off, just to make sure you avoid any potential danger. The weather can be challenging during winter. If you're planning on driving on the Crown Range road after April time, make sure to have snow chains with you, just in case. Always go slow and be alert. However, if you are unfamiliar with New Zealand's road conditions, don't forget that your journey will be just as enjoyable if you decide to travel via Cromwell.
Is the Crown Range Road worth it?
Gosh, yes! After almost a month on the road, driving through New Zealand's South Island, I can safely say that Crown Range stole my heart. For me, it was by far the most enjoyable drive, as well as the most challenging. I very much enjoyed driving through to Aoraki Village and towards Mount Cook, but I still believe, that being at 1127 metres altitudes and driving through continuous zigzags, up and down, it's a driver's dream come true.
Beyond the Crown Range Road: Driving in New Zealand
New Zealand has many narrow, windy roads, challenged by extreme weather. It's easy to underestimate the drive times when looking at the road maps. You always need to be aware of weather hazards and very hilly terrain. Winter roads can be treacherous and you must not forget that not all New Zealand's rail crossings have automatic signals or gates. Vigilance is key when embarking on a journey across New Zealand.
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But you might want to read what Isabel (Bel Around the World) has to say if you are driving in New Zealand for the first time!
Check if your driving license is valid in New Zealand. Make sure you are aware of the road rules and remember that you must drive on the left-hand side. As a Brit, this comes naturally, but I can imagine that anybody used to driving on the right-hand side might need a bit of practice beforehand. Always use common sense, stay alert and have plenty of fun, as I promise, driving through New Zealand is one of the best things ever.