Share With Friends:
By Ben Selby
One of the most famous driving roads in New Zealand has to be the Crown Range. In the right car on the right day, it offers a real piece of driving heaven. From Queenstown to the famous Cardrona Hotel, its just magic. Here is the way from Queenstown to Cardrona via one of the most stunning roads this country has to offer.
Leaving Queenstown itself, aim your classic north east along State Highway 6. Here you will pass a variety of new shopping plazas and new builds. While shopping may be the last thing on your mind as you give your classic car a shakedown, its nice to know that you can still stock up on supplies.
Before long, you will pass the picturesque Lake Hayes. Here you can park up and admire the lake in its splendour. Lake Hayes on the right day offers up a picture-perfect setting and the ideal spot for a picnic.
Following on from Lake Hayes, it isn’t long before the SH6 leads you to the start of the aforementioned and infamous Crown Range.
Turn right off SH6 when you arrive at the start and the fun can begin. That said, you do need to be awake, especially at the first bit. One could argue the beginning of the Queenstown end of the Crown Range is like the New Zealand version of the Stelvio Pass in the north of Italy.
A barrage of asphalt spaghetti draped over the hillside in the right conditions makes for driving nirvana. It does get a bit tight as you negotiate each hairpin bend so be aware for wide oncoming traffic with each turn. It is also isn’t long until you can look to your left and see the likes of Queenstown Airport far down below. The view just gets better the higher you go.
Once the snaking section of this marvelous piece of bendy bitumen finishes, the Crown Range offers up some smooth and sweeping tarmac for you to munch up. Whether you are in a small open top sports car or a big floaty cruiser, there is something in this section to suit just about every driving style and kind of car. And you are still climbing.
Soon after the Crown Range climbs higher still. Looking left or right and you are greeted with either rolling hillsides or far-off snow-capped mountain peaks. You can see why this part of New Zealand tends to embrace its Swiss Alps ambience because it really isn’t difficult to separate the two on face value.
Once you reach the Crown Range summit, get ready for the mother of all views. Take a right turn onto the Crown Range Summit lookout point, park up in the gravel parking area and look. This really is a view to write home about.
Peer off into the distance and you can see Queenstown itself and either side of it, mountain ranges and hillsides. Its easy to see why Sir Peter Jackson shot plenty of Lord of the Rings down this way.Jump back in the car and you head down the Crown Range before arriving in Cardrona and the famous Cardrona Hotel.
Founded in 1863, the Cardrona Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in New Zealand. It is also one of the most photographed. The Cardrona Hotel was built to capitalise on the influx of 19th Century Gold Miners who were drawn to the area.
Cardrona became a thriving settlement but the Cardrona Hotel was only one of four original hotels which remained after the gold rush days came to an end. The Hotel has endured to this day, having passed through the hands of a number of owners.
Jimmy Patterson owned the Hotel from 1926 until his death in 1961 aged 91. He was the longest serving Landlord and famous throughout the area for the way he served alcohol. Those who were headed to Queenstown over the Crown Range were only allowed one drink, whereas those travelling to Wanaka could have two.
The Hotel closed during the sixties but was fully restored and refurbished during the eighties. Today, its current owners have embraced the hotels past to ensure its future. A bit like classic cars to be honest.
So, if you want to have a day trip from Queenstown to the Cardrona Hotel for lunch, a pint and enjoy one of the most iconic buildings in New Zealand, there is no time like the present to do just that.