Get info about driving conditions on 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 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 can also check one of the following two websites:
The Queenstown Lakes District Council [qldc.govt.nz] regularly sends out tweets, including tweets about road conditions on Crown Range Road.
The last time I checked, there were no major issues, but you are advised to check the aforementioned web pages for the latest updates.
What and where is Crown Range Road?
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.
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 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 Crown Range, 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 Crown Range Road?
As far as I know, 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 Crown Range Road.
Roads that typically tend to be on the forbidden list for car rental companies include:
- Unofficial roads, which would be roads without a name or which can not be found on a map.
- Unformed roads, for example on beaches or up mountains.
- Roads that are very dangerous such as for example along the edge of a cliff like Skippers Canyon road near Queenstown.
- Forest roads where road conditions tend to be typically very bad with potholes and such.
Common sense gets you a far way when driving in New Zealand. 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 Crown Range Road dangerous to drive on?
It can be dangerous to drive on Crown Range Road:
- In winter
- If you are speeding
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 Crown Range Road has a couple of very sharp bends, it is not advisable to speed on this road, especially when driving down the road.
Final words on Crown Range road conditions
If you intend to drive up or down the Crown Range 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.
Crown Range 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.
Have a safe journey!
This article falls under Travel Guide.
Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.