February 14, 2023

Danseys Pass

Danseys Pass

Danseys Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 910m (2,985ft) above the sea level located on the boundary of Canterbury and Otago regions, on New Zealand's South Island.

Set high in the Kakanui Mountains, the road to the summit is mostly unpaved but navigable by all passenger vehicles. There is no real need for a 4WD vehicle. It’s called Danseys Pass Road. Much of the road is occasionally cut directly from the Haast Schist bedrock.

The road is 51.5km (32 miles) long running west-east from Naseby to the paved Livingstone-Duntroon Road. The road was built for the owners of large sheep runs, the brothers Allan McLean and John McLean, and used for gold mining traffic. It was named after William Heywood Dansey, a North Otago run holder. The first road through the pass was built in 1862.

The road to the summit is very steep, hitting a 13% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. It is not suitable for buses, campervans, caravans or towing. It’s a really nice and well maintained scenic gravel road that winds through both farmland and tussock laced mountain ranges. It is narrow in places with blind corners.

The majority of the road scenically winds through the Kaikanui Mountains. It’s an absolute must for adventure riding New Zealand if you are in the area.

Access to the pass is typically open all year round, but it is quite often closed due to snow in the winter months or during heavy rain. It's very exposed to the weather and you could definitely see snow here, so if there's any hint of bad weather, you should not be up there.