Driving the wild Danseys Pass in NZ

Danseys Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 910m (2,985ft) above sea level, located on the boundary of the Canterbury and Otago regions on New Zealand's South Island.

Danseys Pass

Is Danseys Pass road sealed?

Located high in the Kakanui Mountains, the road to the summit is mostly unpaved but navigable by all passenger vehicles. There is no real need for a 4WD vehicle. It’s called Danseys Pass Road, with much of the road occasionally cut directly from the Haast Schist bedrock.

Where does Danseys Pass start and finish?

The road spans 51.5km (32 miles) running west-east from Naseby to the paved Livingstone-Duntroon Road. Originally built for the owners of large sheep runs, the brothers Allan McLean and John McLean, and used for gold mining traffic, it was named after William Heywood Dansey, a North Otago run holder. The first road through the pass was built in 1862.

How’s the road to Danseys Pass?

The road to the summit is very steep, featuring gradients of up to 13% through some of the ramps. It is not suitable for buses, campervans, caravans, or towing. It’s a well-maintained scenic gravel road that winds through both farmland and tussock-laced mountain ranges, although it is narrow in places with blind corners.

Is Danseys Pass worth it?

The majority of the road scenically winds through the Kaikanui Mountains, making it an absolute must for adventure riding in New Zealand if you are in the area.

Is the Danseys Pass road open?

Access to the pass is typically open all year round, but it is often closed due to snow in the winter months or during heavy rain. It's very exposed to the weather, and snow is common, so if there's any hint of bad weather, it's advisable not to venture up there.
Pic: Alex Young