Nevis Road is a remote Central Otago metal and dirt road that links Bannockburn with State Highway 6 near Garston. It was originally a Māori trail that Europeans repurposed to access the Nevis Valley. The valley hosted a sheep station despite its height of 800 m and the remote location between Tapuae-o-Uenuku / Hector Mountains and the Garvie Mountains. In 1862, gold was discovered in the area. This lead to a gold rush and a small town being developed in the Valley. Today, there are a few stone ruins and relics, but the area continues to be farmed by Ben Nevis Station.
Much of the road is accessible in a standard car, but a section is only suitable for a 4WD. As it is high, it can also be affected by snow and ice in winter and may be closed. From Bannockburn, take Bannockburn Road south. At the intersection with Hawkburn Road, continue straight ahead on unsealed Nevis Road.
The road climbs from 460 metres to a high point of 1,275 metres at Duffers Saddle. Here, the rugged terrain changes from tussock and grass to arid high country semi-desert. Rock Tors are a feature of this landscape, and Duffers is the highest point on any public road in NZ. It lies between the Carrick Range to the North and the Old Woman Range to the South. Several tracks are accessible near the saddle.
From Duffers Saddle, the road remains reasonably well maintained as it heads west and down towards the Nevis Valley. After crossing the River at Nevis Crossing, the road swings south into the valley and runs for 12 km to Lower Nevis. Here, Commissioners Creek crosses the road just above the River, making for a significant ford.
There is a 4WD-only warning sign, with another 20+ fords to go! If you have a 4WD and feel confident, continue into the Nevis River Gorge. After ten km or so, the road crosses over the south end of the Hector Mountains at 1,100 metres. It then heads down to Garston, where the historic Garston Ski Hut and the Roaring Lion Track huts are accessible.