South Island in Winter, Part 2

In this two part series we explore the South Island in winter - challenged by the weather, things don't quite go to plan - but that's part of the fun!

Part two takes us up to the old Big River gold mine before heading across Lewis Pass and out towards Lake Tennyson for a freezing night.

Trip area

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Big River

Explore a remarkable array of goldmining relics in Big River, one of the most intact mining areas.

A four wheel drive track starts 9 km along Soldiers Road, after the Alborns Track carpark. Soldiers Road turnoff is signposted on SH7, just south of Reefton.

The track, twisting through regenerating beech forest, passes many mining sites before opening out to the barren Big River settlement. This track includes sections of gravel road and rougher rocky sections, as well as stream crossings which flood in heavy rain. It is for experienced four wheel drivers only. Enjoy lunch or an overnight stay at Big River Hut. Drive out the same way.

The road can also be used as a walking and mountain biking track.

5 hours
23 km

Rainbow Road

One of New Zealand's most well known offroad routes, Rainbow Road is a fairly well graded gravel road with a few fords to tackle along the way. The road was built to support the transmission lines running through there.

Access costs $60 per vehicle and the road is open from Boxing Day through to Easter (please confirm before going).

Gates are unlocked daily from 7 am – 6 pm, you won't be able to pass through outside of these hours without prior permission from Rainbow Station.

6 hours
95 km

Lake Tennyson Campsite

This isolated campsite beside Lake Tennyson offers trout fishing, kayaking, boating and walking opportunities.

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Jollies Pass Road

Jollies Pass Road is a fabulous gravel road route that takes you from Hanmer up and over one pass, down to the pretty Clarence River canyon north of Hanmer’s Mountains.

There is a stream crossing and some section of the pass has some ruts. But it depends on current state of maintenance.

1 hours
9 km