Unbelievable scary, with the beauty of a women; is the Skippers Canyon Road which belongs to the top 10 dangerous roads of the world.
The entrance of the road is in the same location than Cornet Peak Ski fields by Queenstown. The turn off is in a long right corner ¾ up the road to the left.
Skippers Canyon road is a historic scenic road 22km in length,, which winds up beside Shotover River one on New Zealand’s richest bearing gold rivers, which was named by William Rees one of the first settlers from Europe.
In late 1862 Thomas Arthur and Henry Redfern discovered in the area of todays Arthurs Point 4 oz gold in 3 hours, they made no secret of the found and soon start the settlement up the river. At the early stage of the gold finding the miners had to find there own way up the river, which was very difficult due the steep mountains and the current Shotover River, at this time many accidents and casualty’s has been reported, which had difficulty of the transport of goods to the end of the river. In late 1800 the first survey has been made to build a road into the valley to make the Skippers Canyon more accessible for the Miners, first Hotels where build beside the road one of them was the old welcome Hotel, today are only the both chimney remaining the other one is the Otago Hotel far up in the mountain, not much left of this Historic accommodation, it can be reached by a 2 hour hike or Adventure bike but, there are a few tricky sections with deep steps that make the ride a bit challenging, a good work out for biker to check his menthaly strength, on one side is the straight rock up and on the other side a steep cliff to the Shotover River. However the access point is behind the historic cemetery. Further up the valley, first challenges waited for the road workers, the rock is very soft and the steep cliffs made the road very dangerous, at dry condition as soon the carriages rolled over the loose rock, the rock turned into dust, as soon the rain started the dust road was very slippery and unpredictable. Under those condition it was no surprise that motor vehicles where banned until late 1900, and no insurance covered the vehicle on this road. Today it has changed; Skippers Canyon Road is a public road from start to end.
Today, Skippers Canyon is a main tourist attraction. On weekends the road is very busy with 4×4 wd cars, at some locations it could be very difficult to pass an on coming vehicle, usually by dry condition is a massive dust clouds visible from the on coming vehicle and a passing spot can be looked at, to let the on coming vehicle pass. For UN experienced driver the biggest challenge is the deep drop beside the road, with no hard shoulder on the side. In 1898 the Skippers suspension bridge where build in just 2 years. Even though the completion of the existing bridge was done after the gold rush was over, it is one of the main attractions of the journey to Skippers Village. The bridge spans from sheer rock faces on both sides and is about more than 100m above the Shotover River.
At Skippers Town village is a DOC campground with basic facilities. The old school house is nicely refurbished and one of the original houses is open for visitors to take a look into the basic live in the gold mining times.