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The Crown Range mountains lies to the east of the Wakatipu Basin in Otago, New Zealand. It is noted for two features, the Cardrona Alpine Resort, on the slopes of the 1900 metre Mt. Cardrona, and a highway, known as the Crown Range Road (formerly State Highway 89), which winds steeply between Arrow Junction, south of Arrowtown, and Wanaka to the north.
Travelling from Arrowtown towards Cromwell the Crown Range Road starts at the bottom of the Zig zag. This steep and winding climb goes to the Crown Terrace. The Crown Terrace is a large flat and fertile area capable of growing grain crops. The road off to the left is to Glencoe Station (Glencoe Road) and at the end of the Crown Terrace is the Eastburn Road to Eastburn Station. Glencoe Station is the large high country ranch behind Arrowtown. Eastburn Station is also large and runs from the Glencoe boundary almost to Cardrona, New Zealand.
Just past the Eastburn Road the road twists and climbs up to the Crown Saddle, where a bronze plaque at the vista point confirms that this historic summit, at 1076 m (3530 ft) is the highest sealed (paved) pass in all of New Zealand (2m higher than the Desert Road summit on State Highway 1 in the North Island). Eastburn Station has provided a number of viewing areas. The distant views down and over Lake Hayes, Arrowtown and the airport to Queenstown are stunning. From the Crown Saddle the road follows the Cardrona creek, then stream which becomes the Cardrona River down the iconic snow tussock valley until it opens out at the small settlement of Cardrona.
The area was heavily populated during the Central Otago goldrush of the 1860s, the town of Cardrona, now little more than a dot on the map, briefly having a population of several thousand prospectors. There are visible remains of gold prospecting beside the Crown Range Road over the Saddle on the west bank opposite the East Burn (stream) 2 miles over the saddle. Also 6 miles down from the Saddle on the east bank.
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