The Lewis pass is our favorite of the famous three of Arthurs, Haast and Lewis, the pass starts just north of Murchison where the Buller and the Maruia rivers meet in the upper south island and stretches all the way to just west of Christ church a drive that takes around seven hours in total.
The pass follows the Maruia river for most of the journey and is a spectacular drive through native beech forests that for the most part are untouched by any commercial activities of logging, most of the pass is along the valley floor with towering mountains on both sides.
The first place to stop along the pass is the Maruia falls that are only a short distance from the start of the pass, the falls are just south of Shenandoah and are a wide but low waterfall not far from the main hwy and well worth stopping for.
There are numerous walking tracks dotted all along the Lewis pass the most used one is the St James walkway which is around three quarters of the way along the pass there is a small carpark on the left hand side of the road heading to Christchurch and is easily missed when driving along.
The walk way is around sixteen kms long and starts from the Lewis pass road and ends at the Boyle village car park, the walk way is part of the Te Araroa Trail which covers the length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga at the top of the north island to Bluff at the very bottom of the south island around 3000 kms long.
The other notable walking track within the Lewis pass is the Lake Daniell walking track, the track starts at the Marble Hill camp ground around 5 kms east of Springs Junction and follows the Alfred river for most of the way up to Lake Daniell, the walk takes you around three or four hours one way, there is a camp site and cabins at the lake for accommodation.
The remaining drive through the pass takes you along the stunning Maruia river valley and through native forests until opening up just out side of Hanmer Springs, here the scenery changes to open plains and grassland and heads towards the east coast of the south island.