A road with more than 15 gate to open or close

The Thomson Road in the Dunstan Mountain is a historic road which is open year around in the summer time is a 2 WD road while a 4WD in the winter month. It is a remote high country road where some examples of early gold mining and early settlement in the Dunstan Mountains are discovered.


This historic road follows beside Thomson Gorge Creek with a few ford crossings. By dry conditions, the fords are half wheel deep, but very rough to ride through on a motorbike. The easiest access is the turn off by Lindis Crossing. The turn off is just before the left turn onto a bridge to the right, driving direction from Alexandra to Tarras.


In late 1862 the first miners were crossing over from Manuherikia Valley to upper Clutha Valley and discovered gold in the river. The Thomson Gorge track was used by miners and traveler who made their way to east or west.

There are many historic sites beside the track, most of them are on private land. Visitors should respect the privacy of the land owner and should ask for permission to enter the land before trespassing.  If access is denied there is a good reason why the land owner denies the access.


The road is very easy to drive in dry conditions and by rain there are not many rough sections along. The only big challenge is to open or close the gate on the road in total there are 23 gates to open or close! Jumping off and on the bike keeps you busy and it takes longer than riding the whole road from east to west. The roads winds up into the mountain over the Thomson Saddle (900M) into the Bendigo area on the eastern side of the range. Not far away is a stone hut build beside the road in 1908, which provides shelter to the traveler on the way to the goldfields.


On top of the Saddle is a magnificent panorama view into the Southern Alps and lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka, and upper Clutha. I have not found a good camping spot beside the track yet. The underground is very rocky, or live stock is around, mainly sheep. The valley is very wide and it changes the scenery more times. Many picnic areas are located along the track so remember to take your litter home with you.


Wilderness is an unforgettable experience




Exploring Mt Aspiring National Park is an unforgettable experience with striking landscape formations and bush lines. Mt. Aspiring is located to the South West of Mt. Aspiring National Park. It has a World Heritage status. The wilderness of Mt Aspiring has attracted many outdoor lovers over the years. Outdoor activities like hiking, bouldering, climbing, fishing and cycling are the main targets for many to visit the untouched place. In Wanaka, Mt. Aspiring National Park is well signposted and it is easy to find the way.


On the way out of Wanaka, the Top 10 Holiday Park is just located next to the road and is a very nice place with a great view to Lake Wanaka and the surrounding Mountain.  At Glendhu Bay, there is a typical Kiwi Style Camping Ground which is very busy through the summer month. By Kiwi Campers the privilege of this camp site is to have direct access to the lake and has a boat ramp to lunch the boat into Lake Wanaka. Just a few kilometers away from Glendhu bay is a turn off to west Wanaka Rd, if you take this road it will lead you to West Wanaka Station. There is a DOC car park the perfect start to explore the west side of Lake Wanaka, this location is a good place for fishing in the pristine waters.


To travel from Wanaka to Raspberry Creek is a good day encounter with enough time for a rewarding picnic beside the slow flowing river Matukituki. As we are back to the Wanaka, we take a right turn at Mt Aspiring road towards the mountains. From this part of the road is the road into Treble Cone which is already visible to the left. The first attraction is Diamond Lake, a small lake imbedded into a harmonic landscape, and toitoi.


On the last meter on tarmac is the turn off to Treble Cone. The road is in a good shape to drive up to the Cornet Peak ski lift, on top is a starting point for hang glider on warm days is a very rewarding thermal wind which gives the hang glider a good lift into higher levels. Standing at the car park of Ski lift is an awesome panoramic view to Dunstan Mountains, Lake Wanaka and East of Otago.


Back to the Wanaka, we take a left turn at Mt. Aspiring Road and a yellow signpost signals the start of the Gravel Road for next 40km, the gravel is very loose some times and many pumps are on the drive way which can make the driving exhausting by too less speed. However, the braided river valleys, native bush land, alpine meadows with relaxing sheep’s and cows rewarding the drive into the dramatic Southern Alps.


Short after Mt Aspiring Station is the first Ford Crossing usually it look more dramatic than it is very settled underground and easy to drive through, from that point the scenery get better and better, the road follow the braided river valley, with many romantic places to camp or just having a rewarding picnic beside the relaxing flowing river. At the end of Wanaka Mt Aspiring Road is the Raspberry Creek’s car park, with toilet facility. From there, it starts up the day with a walk into the national park. It takes around 3hours for a return trip. For more adventurous individual, you may start the multi day hike back to Glenorchy. Remember not to litter the countryside and to take all the rubbish back with you out, and leave only your foot prints behind. This is for the effort of protecting the beauty of our nature for our Children.


For more information about activities please refer to DOC office in Wanaka and to find out more about the latest updates about the area.



Department of Conservation


Lake Wanaka Area

PO Box 93

Lake Wanaka

New Zealand.

Ph +64 3 443 7660      Fax + 64 3 443 8777