The drive from Hanmer Springs to Lewis Pass is classic remote South Island – river valleys, beech forests and mountains. After leaving the Hanmer Plain, the road follows a winding route along several river valleys before reaching a high point at Lewis Pass (about 900 metres). Just to the southeast of the high point, there is a carpark with a sign marking the pass. There is a short easy walk to a tarn (small mountain lake) and then through high country native shrubbery and beech trees. It is very pretty, especially in spring and early summer with flowering. This also one of the two access points for the multi-day St James Walkway. Opposite the carpark is the Lewis Tops Track, but you need 4 to 5 hours to do this.
Just beyond the road high point, there is a safe stopping area with a great view up Cannibal Gorge and the northwest side of the St James Walkway. Both prior to and after the pass, there is access to multiple additional walking tracks, some with campsites like Lake Daniell and Boyle Village, from half day hikes to multi day tramps. Do some extra planning and research as they vary greatly in effort and intensity. We suggest starting with topo maps and the DOC website. In our case, we chose the Lake Daniell Track.