Acheron Road is an unforgettable journey in NZ
Located in the beautiful Marlborough high country on the South Island of New Zealand, Acheron Road is a very exciting drive that runs between Blenheim and Hanmer Springs. It can be closed due to weather or fire danger at any time.
Known as the alternative highway between Marlborough and Canterbury, this is an amazing 192 km (119 miles) unpaved road through Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s biggest farm, covering almost half a million acres (185,000 hectares). The road was originally a sheepdrover’s track and was improved to service the main electricity line linking the south of the island. No caravans, buses or vehicles over 7 m long, and you need a permit to tow a trailer.
Check with your rental company first to see if they allow you to drive this road. The winding and often dusty road follows the river, getting higher and higher, with the landscape turning from grapes to grassy slopes and scree covered hillsides. 2WD or AWD cars can do this trip just fine, just so long as they've got a sensible amount of clearance. During the summer season, the road is open 7 am – 7 pm from Labour weekend Saturday to Easter Monday or the second Sunday in April (whichever is the later date).
This narrow, unsealed backcountry road may be closed without warning due to weather conditions or fire danger. Be prepared for sudden changes in the weather and always carry warm, wind and waterproof clothing.Much of the road is higher than 900m in altitude and thus subject to heavy snowfall. The road tops out at 1.145m (3,757ft) above the sea level at Wards Pass. Also known as Molesworth road, it's a surprising and unforgettable journey through landscapes of shifting screes, wide grasslands and steep hillsides.
Pic: Alister McKeown