The Crown Ranges (New Zealand)

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Distance:  10.8 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Category: 1
Elevation gain: 684 metres
Terrain: Open plains
Road Surface: Sealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Crown Ranges mountains lie to the east of the Wakatipu Basin in Otago, New Zealand.  This road winds steeply between Arrow Junction, south of Arrowtown to Wanaka up in the north.  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 had a population of several thousand prospectors. Today there are still visible remains of gold prospecting beside the Crown Range Road.

Image taken by Long Zheng; Flickr

The Crown Ranges climb

As soon as you turn onto the Crown Range Road the road heads skyward. No warm-up, just solid climbing.  The first part of this climb is affectionately known to locals as the “zig-zags” .  As you battle switchback after switchback on your way to the Crown Range Plateau. The top of the zig-zags has a parking and rest area offering magnificent views over the Wakatipu Basin.

Image taken by Jocelyn Kinghorn; Flickr

Past the zig-zags you’ll find the road relents which makes for some nice fast undulating roads.  This is before you are in the granny gear heading skyward over the rest of the Crown Ranges. The next 5 kilometers is challenging for all levels of riders. Just past the Eastburn Road the roads twists and climbs up to the Crown Saddle.  Where a bronze plaque celebrates this historic summit.  At 1,076 meters this is the highest sealed pass in New Zealand.

Image taken by Andrea Schaffer; Flickr

The climb to the top was hard.  You will be very glad it is over as the views from the top out over the Wakatipu Basin and over the Kawarau River Basin is more than rewarding.

Image taken by A.J Oswald; Flickr

The descent down to Wanaka is fast and furious. The road surface is very smooth in parts, making for a fun filled ride.

The road from Cardrona through to Wanaka is mostly downhill or flat.  It might be viewed as a bit of a chore for some riders after the fun on the Crown Range crossing. But the view of Lake Wanaka as it almost simply bursts into sight should drive you on the last 25 km.

The climb back from Wanaka is just as good.  Just not as long:

Distance:  6.2 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Category: 3
Elevation gain: 354 metres
Terrain: Open plains
Road Surface: Sealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

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