The Lewis Pass is the northernmost road crossing of the Southern Alps. Whether you’re driving north from Christchurch, or south from the Nelson region, you’ll drive over this beautiful area of forested alpine landscape around halfway through your trip.
Part of the greater Lewis Pass National Reserve, the area is home to tumbling rocky rivers, dense temperate beech and podocarp forest, and far-reaching alpine views. There are many walking/hiking trails through the area, but many require some experience of high country hiking.
The summit of the Lewis Pass road allows access to a short Alpine Nature Walk around a tarn (a small lake) and is very accessible for families with children or those unused to alpine walking. It can be cold up there any time of year so take a jacket with you, and wear some robust footwear. The boardwalks can be a bit slippery in ice or snow, but most of the year they are fine.
Take your time on this short 20 minute walk to look for a distant waterfall dropping from the mountains, far-off alpine valleys opening from above the treeline, and wild clouds rushing up through the pass. It is an invigorating place to stop.