South Africa
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The Oliviershoek Pass, sometimes spelt Oliviers Hoek Pass, lies along the R74 and offers a beautiful alternative route to the Van Reenen’s Pass between Johannesburg and Durban. This alternate route has travellers leaving the N3 near Harrismith, traverses the Oliviershoek Pass, Bergville and Winterton before re-joining the N3.

Distance 13.5 km
Gradient average 1:23
Gradient maximum 1:5
Summit 1758m
Surface Tar

The Oliviershoek Pass route is used when Van Reenen’s is closed due to bad weather but can be used as a scenic alternative that brings one close to the beauty of the Northern Drakensburg. The Pass itself offers some incredible views over the Drakensberg and other than offering some beautiful accommodation along the route, it is also roughly twenty minutes’ drive from the Royal Natal National Park, and an hour from Witsieshoek Sentinel Park, where one can brave the summit for an incredible view of the Tugela Falls.

To add a little history, it was along this same land, on 19 October 1837, that Piet Retief and his trek party climbed the Drakensberg. There are a host of historic passes in the vicinity, but unlike Van Reenen’s and Oliviershoek, most are gravel roads or off-road tracks which motorbike, mountain bikers and 4X4 enthusiasts enjoy zigzagging up and down. Some include Retief Pass, located parallel to and very close to Oliviershoek, and the Sandspruit Pass, difficult, narrow and steep, 4x4 only.

This long Pass is definitely one of the most scenic tar Passes in the country. It is suitable for all vehicles and motorcyclist love its wide sweeping bends. The northern start of the Pass is 21.5 km after passing the Sterkfontein Dam along the R74. It starts off at its summit and the first long contoured S-bend, not far from the start, marks the point where the border between the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal is crossed on the apex of this corner.

At this point, on your right you will find the Phatt Chef Restaurant and on the left-hand side, diagonally opposite the Phatt Chef, is a viewsite with plenty of parking, which provides spectacular views over the whole of the Oliviershoek Pass and the surrounding mountains and valleys - there are very few places further down the pass that provide photographic opportunities similar to this one. The viewsite is within easy walking distance of the restaurant, if that is where you have parked.

Things to do and see

  • Northern Drakensberg Scenery
  • Sterkfontein Dam
  • Views of Mount Paul Peak & Sentinel
  • Phatt Chef Restaurant & Windmill Farm
  • View-Site


Free to Drive

Best during daylight hours

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