If you’re planning to visit New Zealand’s South Island, you’ll probably have Skippers Canyon on your list of places to visit. And while there are lots of things to do and see in the area, you’ll find the journey you’ll take to get there to be an adventure all of its own!
A daringly spectacular adventure…
Winding its way along the sheer face of the Canyon, Skippers Road, while narrowly cut, is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful roads – but also one of it’s most dangerous! Though, as ominous as that sounds, there’s really no need to worry. Only those holding a special permit are able to drive on New Zealand’s Skippers Road, so you can leave navigating its breath-taking bends to the professionals.
Built between 1883 and 1890, the road was hacked by hand into the cliff of the Shotover River Valley with the intention of creating a safer way for gold miners to access the Canyon – an extremely impressive achievement in its time. Today, it’s only wide enough for just one vehicle at a time, so should you pass others on your journey they’ll be a lot of back and forth. Luckily, the more time spent exploring the roads simply gives you more time to appreciate the amazing panoramic views of rugged cliff faces beyond and the bright blue river running below. Plus, the heady heights you’re travelling at mean your views of the area’s natural beauty quite literally extend as far as the eye can see.
Setting off in Queenstown, your journey to Skippers Road heads in the direction of Coronet Peak Ski Field. After enjoying the spectacular views over Wakatipu Basin you’ll make a stop at Lighthouse Rock to look out over more of the canyon’s amazing vistas. Next, you come to a highlight of the journey along Skippers Canyon Road: crossing Skippers Canyon Bridge. At 90 metres above the river and 100 metres long, it’s rather remarkable to learn that this century old bridge is still suspended by its 14 original wire ropes. After a careful crossing of the bridge, the old township of Skippers lies ahead with a number of the original buildings remaining for you to discover.
Once you’ve had time to explore and learn a little about the history of the area, you’ll embark on the journey back out of Skippers, where you’ll stop off to pan for gold down at the riverbed. The rocky river bed, the towering trees and the blue lagoon-like waters provide yet another breath-taking view for you to take in during your Skippers Canyon Tour.
With Skippers Road offering such an exciting journey, as much as you’ll not want your time at Skippers Canyon to end, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the journey back to Queenstown just so that you can witness the area’s incredible sights all over again. Not to mention get the adrenaline pumping again as you travel its terrifically treacherous road! If you don’t mind travelling at dizzy heights along narrow winding roads in order to experience the unrivalled beauty Skippers Canyon has to offer, then this really is an adventure for you. If you do mind, well, just don’t look down!