Nevis Road in NZ: Not Suitable for 2WD Vehicles

Nevis Road is an absolute classic drive located in Otago, New Zealand. The road has steep sections and crosses several fords.

Nevis Road

Where is Nevis Road?

The road is located near the Southland border, in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island.

How long is Nevis Road?

The road is totally unpaved and features a few river crossings. It’s 65 km (40 miles) long, running from Bannockburn Road (near Cromwell, a town in Central Otago in the Otago region) to State Highway 6 (near Garston, a small settlement in northern Southland).

Can I drive my vehicle on Nevis Road?

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. The Nevis Valley section from Bannockburn to Garston is 4WD only and may be very rough in places with numerous fords.

Is Nevis Road open?

Set high in the Old Woman Range, the road tops out at Duffers Saddle, at 1,275 m (4,183 ft) above sea level. 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 September 30th. But even in the summer, conditions can quickly turn nasty. It can be inaccessible at times of snow or high river levels caused by rain or snowmelt. Traveling with a group or at least another vehicle is advised, as you are a long way from everywhere.

Is Nevis Road dangerous?

The ride is rather remote, so you need to be prepared. It isn't recommended that you head in alone. There's 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 area's history are evident. Heavy periods of rain can make the track muddy and some of the small river crossings slightly deeper.
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