Magnificent, isn’t it? here’s another…
If you do one 4WD trip in Queenstown, let it be this one. Sure, it;s a tad hairy at times – the roads are narrow, the drops sheer, and the way icy, but check those views.
I’m talking about Skippers Canyon. A tour into here will take you along Skippers Road which clings to the side of Skippers Canyon, which drops vertically to the Shotover River, once known as “the richest river in the world”. Rental car companies won’t allow their vehicles on this narrow, unsealed road – for good reason – but we’re here with Del from 4WD Expeditions and he’s been driving and guiding on this track for more than thirty years. We were in safe hands.
The road was built during the gold rush, when a precarious pack track was the only access to Skippers township and the Upper Shotover diggings. It’s hard to imagine how settlers and miners made their way with horse and cart along here – the horses even had to have nails protruding from their shoes in order to grip the path during the winter. Del had ice breaker chains on the Landrover we travelled in.
As we drove, Del told us about the goldrush, and about how life was lived in that time; how it was hot and dry in the summer and freezing in the winter – and how the life expectancy reflected these conditions.
We stopped down on the Shotover River for a cup of tea and some biscuits (why does tea taste so goo when you’re outdoors and it’s cold?) and watched the jetboats on the Shotover River.
Del told us about the old man he brought out here in search of a shed he built by the river just after WW2. That’s it in the pic below.
On the way back we stopped to look at the icicles on the part of the road that rarely sees the sun during winter. If one of these fell on you it could do quite a bit of damage.
Just when you thought the views couldn’t get more magnificent…
As awesome as the alpine scenery was, the snow meant we couldn’t get as far down into the canyon as Del normally likes to go. That, however, gives us a reason to come back in warmer weather.
Anyways, if you want more information on Del, private tours like the one we did, or others he offers, check out the website.
And for more Queenstown inspiration – including The Milford and Routeburn Tracks – check out more posts here.