Get a description and see a summer and a winter video of the scenic drive through Lindis Pass offering mountain and tussock grassland scenery.
Lindis Pass is one of my favorite places in New Zealand and a must-do when you visit the South Island of New Zealand.
Lindis Pass is a Scenic Reserve, which lies approximately 32 km southwest of Omarama, but the boundary for the scenic reserve starts about 18 km south of Omarama on State Highway 8.
Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve was formed in 1976 and was one of the first tussock reserves in New Zealand.
Lindis Pass can be best described as “sculptured smooth hillslopes and prominent ridges in montane to sub-alpine snow tussock grassland with very occasional shrubs.”
In other words, what you’ll see is mostly grass on mountain slopes; yellow-brownish grass to be more precise that looks like very short and soft fur from afar. The color of the grass really pops out during early morning hours.
The scenic drive through Lindis Pass is approximately 63 km in length. Driving at about 60 to 100 km/h (37 to 62 mph), it would take approximately 35 – 60 minutes to go through Lindis Pass.
The road through Lindis Pass is hilly and winding, so you won’t be able to drive 100 km/h (62 mph) very often.
Other than a few pullouts and picnic spots, you will not come across anything here. The landscape is empty but immensely gorgeous.
While most tourists – including myself – just drive through Lindis Pass and stop at the top (971 m) to enjoy the view, you can also do other activities such as short walks, multi-day hikes, or biking in the Lindis Conservation Area.
Several trails in Lindis Conservation Area can be accessed from the bottom as well as the top of Lindis Pass, but can also be accessed from Birchwood Road in the Ahuriri Valley.
While there are no trees on the mountains around Lindis Pass, you will find trees in the valley. Trees in Lindis Valley and that line Lindis River tend to turn yellow in autumn, so you can use Lindis Valley as a short stop to enjoy fall foliage.
In winter, the landscape may transform from a nice brown color to entirely white when snow falls on the mountains around Lindis Pass. Lindis Pass is very photogenic no matter what season it is.
How to get to Lindis Pass
To get to Lindis Pass, drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, and then from Lake Tekapo drive to Lake Pukaki, and then to Twizel and Omarama. From Omarama you can drive south on State Highway 8 to Lindis Pass.
Before reaching Lindis Pass when driving from Omarama, you can take a short detour down Ahuriri Valley and back by driving on Birchwood Road, which is a gravel road.
If you’re coming from the south, you can reach Lindis Pass from Cromwell or Wanaka by driving north on State Highway 8.
Basic info for the scenic drive through Lindis Pass
|Driving distance:||63 km (39 mi)|
|Driving time:||40 – 60 minutes|
|Road type:||Sealed (paved) two-lane highway|
|Road condition:||Very good; smooth driving|
|Best time to drive:||Early morning or late afternoon|
|What you’ll see:||Mountains, tussock grassland, lupins (in summer), snow (in winter)|
Click here to see a map for this scenic drive through Lindis Pass from south (Lindis Valley) to north (Omarama).
Summer and winter videos of the Lindis Pass scenic drive
This 3-minute video takes you on a scenic drive through Lindis Pass on a somewhat sunny summer morning starting at approximately 7:30 am.
This 4-minute video takes you on a scenic drive through Lindis Pass on a cloudy and misty winter morning starting at approximately 8 am.
This article falls under Scenic Drives.
Note: Roads can be changed or closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.