The northernmost of the three main mountain passes connecting the West Coast to the east, 864m-high Lewis Pass is not as steep as the others (Arthur's and Haast), but the drive is arguably just as scenic. Vegetation comprises mainly beech (red and silver) and kowhai trees growing along river terraces.
After the closure of SH1 north of Kaikoura due to the November 2016 earthquake, Lewis Pass became the main route between Picton and Christchurch. (The SH1 was still closed at the time of research, though it was due to reopen in late 2017.) From Lewis Pass the highway wiggles east for 62km before reaching the turn-off to Hanmer Springs.