Crown Range road conditions, snow and scenic views in winter

Get info about driving conditions on the Crown Range road and see photos of the scenic view you get from Crown Range during winter in New Zealand.

Current road conditions

To get information about the current driving and road condition on the Crown Range road between Queenstown and Wanaka, it is best to call the 24/7 info line on 0800 444 449 and speak to a (real) person to ask about the driving conditions.

You could also check out one of the following two websites:

  1. NZ Transport Agency
  2. AA Roadwatch

Crown Range road condition report

Updated: January 20, 2015

The NZTA has not reported any unusual, hazardous, or extreme events on the Crown Range road.

Since it is now summer in New Zealand, no snow is expected to be on the Crown Range road, so driving conditions should be fair to good.

Take care with tourists who may have stopped along the road, and do not rubberneck, because you can cause an accident. If you want to enjoy the view, consider also stopping at a pullout along the road instead of trying to take in the view from the road.

What and where is the Crown Range road?

The Crown Range road is a road that goes up a mountain. It is part of the shortest possible route between Queenstown and Wanaka.

The second route you could take from Queenstown to Wanaka is by first driving to Cromwell from Queenstown, and then driving from Cromwell to Wanaka. This second route is a "low-level route" that does not typically get much snow.

Scenic view from the Crown Range road in winter in New Zealand

Scenic view from the Crown Range road viewpoint

You can find driving distances and times between cities or towns on the South Island driving distances page.

The route that takes you from Queenstown to Wanaka via the Crown Range is approximately 67 km (42 mi) long, which should take close to 1 hour to drive.

But the actual drive up the Crown Range road starting from State Highway 6 to a lookout where you can get scenic views of the mountains around Queenstown is only 11 km (7 mi) long.

After you reach the top of the Crown Range road, the road levels off before descending towards the Cardrona Valley. The road is winding on both sides of the mountain.

Can you drive with a rental car on the Crown Range road?

As far as I know, the Crown Range road is not on the forbidden list of roads of major car rental companies.

Since it is the shortest route between Queenstown and Wanaka and a perfectly good road, it would be insane to list it as prohibited.

But it is always best to consult your driving contract or call the car rental company you wish to rent a car from and ask them whether you can drive with their rental car on the Crown Range road.

Roads that typically tend to be on the forbidden list for car rental companies include:

Common sense gets you a far way when driving. If when driving on a road your heart starts racings and you start feeling warm all over, you are either experiencing a heart attack or you may be driving on a road which your mind is telling you is a dangerous road to drive on.

Is the Crown Range road dangerous to drive on?

It can be dangerous to drive on the Crown Range road:

Coronet Peak with snow as seen from a viewpoint when driving up the Crown Range road in New Zealand

Coronet Peak with snow as seen from a viewpoint

  1. In winter.
  2. If you are speeding.

Because the Crown Range road climbs up a mountain that gets snow in winter, the road can become dangerous to drive on during winter in New Zealand if there is ice, snow, or both on it.

Roads are typically cleared of snow and covered with grit when the conditions are icy, but you should always carry chains in winter should you need to use them.

And if there is a sign at the beginning of the road saying that "chains must be carried" you are required by law to do so; if you are caught not carrying chains, you may be fined.

Chains can be rented along with a rental car (you typically have to pay extra to rent them) or you can rent them separately from a place that offers such a service.

Because the Crown Range road has a couple of very sharp bends in it, it is not advisable to speed on this road, especially when driving down the road.

Final words on the Crown Range road conditions

If you intend to drive up or down the Crown Range road in winter and have access to the Internet, always check the road conditions before you head out.

You can visit one of the websites mentioned at the beginning of this article, or call the information hotline.

The Crown Range road is not particularly difficult to drive up or down. Just remember not to drive too fast and when driving down the road, put your car in the lowest gear, so that you can use the engine along with the brakes to slow down the car.

 

Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.