Join Queenstown's most experienced 4x4 guide with a private charter tour exploring the stunning Skippers Canyon. We explore Skippers Canyon, made famous by the 1860's gold rush, via Coronet Peak and the infamous 1889 Skippers Canyon Road which roughly follows the gold-rich Shotover River. This tour offers a genuine 4x4 experience with stunning vistas of the southern high country, incredible views, awe-inspiring photographic opportunities in an isolated and fascinating area.


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



Highlights of the day include:


  • Dels guiding and his commentary
  • Opportunity to try gold-panning
  • 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.









  • All passenger tours are private charters
  • Tours are totally discrete and flexible
  • Available in either full or half day guided tours
  • Extremely comfortable 4x4 vehicle
  • Authentic New Zealand high country experience
  • Optional extra: Skippers Canyon Jet boat / raft / helicopter out






  • $199 per adult (2 minimum)
  • $50 per child (16 and under)
  • Maximum 4 passengers
  • Includes morning / afternoon tea
  • Duration up to 4.5 hours






ADULTS       2 Adults     3 Adults     4 Adults    Child PRICE          $399pp      $300pp      $275pp     $50

  • Minimum 2 adults
  • Child (16 and under)
  • Maximum 4 passengers
  • Includes morning tea and lunch
  • Duration up to 8 hours



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




Alternatively, payment with credit cards, eftpos or cash can be made direct on the day, contact us for details.





Morning tour departs 8:00 am

Afternoon tour departs 1:00 pm

Full day tour departs 8:30 am


Different start times can be arranged if by request if possible. Pick-ups at local accommodation by prior arrangement.





Skippers Canyon passenger tours operate in rain, hail , snow and sunshine all year around!









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



My wife and I recently did the Skipper’s Canyon tour with Del as our driver and guide. Del was fantastic - incredibly knowledgeable and experienced and showed us all the best features and views the canyon has to offer. He was great to have a chat with and share a few laughs - we learned so much along the way. My wife doesn’t normally do too well heights or steep drop offs on a bumpy road, but with Del’s experience on that road, she felt very safe and had the best time. We stopped in one of the most spectacular spots I’ve ever had the pleasure to have a delicious morning tea - supplied by Del (he even did an amazing job catering to our dietary requirements). Before going, I was a little concerned about heading out the same way as we came in, thinking that travelling the same route twice would take away from the experience - I couldn’t be more wrong! It was amazing travelling the same picturesque track with a completely different perspective, this was also enhanced by the different lighting and low lying cloud we experienced on the way in. I couldn’t recommend this tour with Del highly enough, we want to come back and do the same trip again, but in winter with some snow - we also want to see all the other trips Del has to offer. This is a must do!

Toby Pickering, Australia

4WD Expeditions Limited

PO Box 1046

Queenstown 9348

New Zealand


From New Zealand

Email :

Freephone : 0800 4WD FUN (493 386)

Cell : 021 244 3920


From Overseas / International

Email :

Phone : + 64 21 244 3920

Mobile site

© 2018 4WD Expeditions. All rights reserved.