Burkes Pass is a mountain pass and at its base, a small town on State Highway 8 at the entrance to the Mackenzie Country in South Canterbury, New Zealand. It is named after Michael John Burke, a graduate of Dublin University, who discovered the passageway which leads up into the Mackenzie Country in 1855. This was an alternative route to the Mackenzie Pass, which the notorious sheep stealer, James Mckenzie, had used to take his sheep into the Otago goldfields.
A dray track was cut through Burkes Pass in 1857-58. Settlers and bullock teams soon found The Long Cutting was the easier of the two passageways to negotiate, becoming the main thoroughfare for travellers in to the Mackenzie, a vast land known by Maori for its plentiful supply of wekas on the plains and eels in the streams and lakes. With travel slow and arduous, the need for a resting place for weary travellers soon became evident.
The Burkes Pass Scenic Reserve, administered by the Department of Conservation, is a former stock droving reserve one kilometre to the west of the pass. The ecological values are threatened by introduced rabbits, lupin, broom and wilding conifers.