SKIPPERS CANYON                                       PRIVATE PASSENGER TOUR




Join Queenstown's most experienced 4x4 guide with a private charter tour exploring the stunning Skippers Canyon. Full commentary and interpretation at each stop in comfortable four wheel drive vehicles. From Coronet Peak to the mighty Shotover River, we journey along the infamous 1889 road following the trail of the 1860s gold rush. This tour has huge vistas of our southern high country, with incredible sights and photo opportunities.


Your local kiwi guide Del, has nearly 30 years commercial 4 wheel drive experience in Skippers Canyon, guiding literally thousands of  tourists into Skippers since 1990. His knowledge and experience on the road conditions, history and region make this a truly remarkable adventure into the Queenstown high country.


Tour available in either full or ½ day.


Highlights of the day include:


  • Hells and Heavens Gates
  • Lighthouse Rock
  • Historic gold mining relics
  • Shotover River
  • Major Lord of the Rings locations
  • Engineering marvel Pinchers Bluff
  • Traversing Skippers Bridge (1901)
  • Skippers School (1889)
  • Skippers Cemetery
  • and much more..







Gold was discovered on the Shotover River at Arthur's Point in October of 1862 by Thomas Arthur and Henry Redfern. Thousands of miners travelled to the region and undertook extreme journeys to reach the gold in Skippers Canyon.


Access to the upper Shotover River was very difficult, this created the need for formed tracks, and in 1863 a man by the name of Armstrong constructed a pack trail from Arthurs Point, up through Coronet Saddle and down Long Gully to Maori Point.



Some of the early mining sites turned into permanent settlements. One of these was at Skippers Point, overlooking Skippers Creek, a tributary of the Shotover River. This settlement became known as Skippers. There are various explanations as to how the area become known as Skippers. One is that it was named after a former sea captain, “Skipper” Duncan, who was the first to sight gold in what is now Skippers Creek.


For over twenty years Armstrong’s Trail was used until the Skippers Canyon Road was opened in 1889.  The Skippers Road is an amazing feat of engineering and today remains mostly unchanged from the early days.  It took six years to build with four different contractors building different sections of the road. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust recognises the "Skippers Road as an iconic New Zealand road of outstanding heritage significance”.


People started to settle in the Lake Wakatipu area around the 12th century when the lake was first visited by the Waitaha people searching for pounamu (greenstone). By the 17th century Kāti Mamoe, who later intermarried with Kāi Tahu, were visiting the lake on a seasonal basis. At the junction of the Kimi Akau (Shotover River) and Kawerau, they established a settlement known as Tititea.


However, because these settlements had been mainly used on a seasonal basis, they had been deserted by the time the first Europeans arrived in the area in 1856. William Gilbert Rees (1827–1898) was a settler who had considerable influence on the area, establishing a sheep run on the eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu in 1860. In that same year Rees gave Kimi Akau its English name, the Shotover River, in honour of his associate George Gammie Maitland‟s country estate, Shotover House, in Wheatley, England.



  • Local guide with 30 years Skippers Canyon 4x4 guiding experience
  • Private groups (4 passengers per vehicle)
  • Available in either full or half day guided tours
  • Total flexibility with tour
  • Discrete
  • Full commentary and interpretation
  • Authentic New Zealand high country experience
  • Explore the infamous 1889 Skippers Canyon gold mining road
  • Visit the 1879 Skippers school
  • Try your hand at gold panning on the mighty Shotover River
  • Optional Skippers Canyon Jet boat
  • Optional raft out
  • Optional helicopter out
  • Pickup time and location by arrangement
  • Delicious morning, afternoon tea provided on half day tours. Lunch provided on full day tour.


PRICE Minimum 2 adults.


Half day

  • $229 per adult, $50 per child (under 20)


Full day

  • $349 per adult, $50 per child (under 20)


These prices are for private vehicle charter. You will not be with other people or groups.



You will be redirected to the Trip Advisor

 website for booking.


Alternatively, contact us and pay direct on the day.





Half day tours depart 8:00 am and 1:00 pm

Full day tours depart 8:30 am or as arranged





Skippers Canyon passenger tours operate in rain, hail ,snow and sunshine ! Year around.

Trips are run on demand









click on image to view


Date: [circa 1880s-1930s] Photograph taken by Edgar Richard Williams. Pinchers BluffDate: [circa 1880s-1930s] Photograph taken by Edgar Richard Williams. Pinchers BluffDate: [circa 1880s-1930s] Photograph taken by Edgar Richard Williams.Date: [circa 1880s-1930s] Photograph taken by Edgar Richard Williams. Exiting Hells GateWelcome Home Hotel, Long Gully.Date: [circa 1920s-1930s. Photograph taken by William Williams or Edgar Williams. Deep creek and Shotover river.An unidentified person on a two horse drawn wagon on Skippers Canyon Road. circa 1917Devils Elbow looking towards deep creek, Shotover River. 1891-1910. Edgar Williams Collection, Alexander Turnbull LibraryThe Chair, Shotover River.View towards Lighthouse rock, Skippers Road.Blue Slip, Skippers Canyon.Entering Heavens Gate, Skippers Road.Coming off Pinchers Bluff.Bottom of Bell Hill, Skippers Canyon.Julien Bordeau, a French Canadian who had his stores depot at Junction Corner (better known today as Coronet Peak turnoff).  Goods from Queenstown would be delivered to the store where they were broken down into smaller lots suitable for pack horses to carry.Sluicing for gold using high pressure water canons.Aspinalls Terrace with the Otago Hotel to the left, and the Skippers Hall and Library to the right.An unidentified person on a two horse drawn wagon on Skippers Canyon Road. circa 1919<>17 - 18x


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