Crown Range

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The Zig Zag climbing the Crown Range road near Arrowtown

The Crown Range lies to the east of the Wakatipu Basin in Otago, New Zealand.[1] It is noted for two features, the Cardrona Alpine Resort, on the slopes of the 1900 metre Mount Cardrona, and a highway, known as the Crown Range Road (formerly State Highway 89), which winds steeply between Arrow Junction, just 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 which 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 station 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 claims that this historic summit, at 1076 m (3530 ft) is the highest sealed road in New Zealand, which is not correct.[2] The Crown Saddle is however the highest sealed pass (2m higher than the Desert Road summit on State Highway 1 in the North Island).[3] 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 which becomes the Cardrona River flowing 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 two miles over the saddle, also six miles below the saddle on the east bank.

In 2001, the last section of the Crown Range Road was sealed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.[4]


  1. ^ "Place name detail: Crown Range". New Zealand Gazetteer. Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
  2. ^ There are higher sealed roads in the North Island. State Highway 48, which passes through Whakapapa Village at the base of Mt Ruapehu, reaches 1130 m. The Bruce Road from Whakapapa Village to Whakapapa Ski Field on Mt Ruapehu climbs to 1617m. Ohakune Mountain Road, from Ohakune to Turoa Ski Field, also on Mt Ruapehu, reaches 1623 m. Pembroke Road on Mt Taranaki is sealed to 1141 m.
  3. ^ See also What is the highest state highway in New Zealand?, New Zealand Transport Agency. Accessed 2017-03-27.
  4. ^ Road to ruin Archived 7 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Mountain Scene - 10 July 2008

Coordinates: 44°56′46″S 168°55′12″E / 44.9461°S 168.9200°E / -44.9461; 168.9200