Mount Olympus Access Road is an unsealed access road located in Craigieburn Range, on New Zealand's South Island. Mt Olympus is famous for two things – awesome snow, and the gnarliest access road in the area. It’s one of the highest roads in the country.
The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. If you’re very adventurous you can self-drive to Mt Olympus. The mountain road is shingle, chains should always be carried, and sometimes mountain access from the bottom hut becomes for heavy duty 4WD vehicles only. The last part of the access road is single lane and a bit scary! Getting there is definitely part of the adventure and one of various “filters” that discourage the caffe latte set from visiting. The road ends at 1.634m (5,360ft) above the sea level.
Any barriers along the edge afford little more than token protection; large stretches should be taken at a snail's pace and a lookout kept for vehicles coming from the opposite direction! The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). The road to the bottom hut is manageable in a 2WD vehicle but often requires chains. The road from the bottom hut to the ski area car park is a little sporting and a high-ground clearance 4WD with chains on board is required. If your car, or nerves aren’t up for this final leg, simply wait at the bottom hut and catch a ride with one of the regulars. Please check the conditions on the morning snow report, and read and obey all signs.
Pic&video: Adam Creed