Take the Scenic Road and Discover French Pass in NZ

French Pass is a quiet fishing and tourist village at the north end of the South Island of New Zealand. The road to the small and timeless seaport is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the country.

French Pass

Can you drive to French Pass NZ?

Tucked away in the Marlborough Sounds, the road to the town, also known as Te Aumiti, is partially unsealed and narrow and winding but navigable by all passenger vehicles. It is well maintained and remains a true ‘kiwi’ road: mostly gravel, with one-lane bridges, hairpin turns, and narrow parts with sheer drops on one side. Sheep and cattle roam freely over the hillsides, and cattle stops (and gates) are frequent. You will quickly secure all drawers and loose items after passing over your first cattle stop.

How long is the French Pass?

The road to the town is 38.3 km (23.79 miles) long starting at Ōkiwi Bay. It tops out at 413m (1,354ft) above sea level, by Saddle Hill. This narrow and winding road was built in 1957.

How long does it take to drive to French Pass?

To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 1 and 2 hours. The road has no traffic: it’s possible to go the entire way to French Pass without seeing another car. This journey isn’t one taken by many travelers. The drive to French Pass is one of the most scenic in New Zealand, featuring farmland, a mineral belt, native bush, and dramatic sea views of the French Pass and d’Urville Island. French Pass has the fastest tidal flows in New Zealand.