Duffers Saddle, a challenging 4wd road in NZ
Duffers Saddle is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.275m (4,183ft) above the sea level, located in the Old Woman Range, in Central Otago, New Zealand.
The road to the summit is unpaved. It’s called Nevis Road. The road over the pass has steep sections and several fords. 2WD vehicles can reach Duffers Saddle for about six months of the year, although the road is better suited to 4WD. This is a relatively straightforward and rewarding route to drive in a standard 4WD during good weather conditions. Beyond Duffers Saddle, 4WD is required.
There’s a sign on the road warning this is the highest public road in New Zealand. The zone is affected by adverse weather. This road is closed for the winter from early June to 30th September. But even in the summer the conditions can quickly turn nasty. Traveling with a group or at least another vehicle is advised, as you are a long way from everywhere. The ride is rather remote, so you need to be prepared. It isn't recommended that you head in alone. No mobile phone coverage so you will be on your own in the middle of nowhere if you get stuck. Vehicles are rare here. It has 26 or so small river crossings. Numerous reminders of the history of the area are evident. Heavy periods of rain can make the track muddy and some of the small river crossings slightly deeper.
Pic: Samuel Austin
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