Skippers Road is a one-way road. Passing maneuvers have to be executed exactly. The road code tells us that we have 'to give way to uphill traffic'. This basically means that everyone who is travelling uphill has the right to go first. Worst case scenario, this means that a vehicle driver has to reverse for several meters in order to reach a passing bay.
My team is in the canyon nearly every day - some of us have been travelling into the canyon for several years now. We know this road in and out and passing maneuvers add only to the moderate thrill during our tours.
A couple of days ago, we happened to pass a vehicle at a spot, where they had to give way for us. Our customers loved this as they felt everyone would go out of their way to please them. They loved it. It was at this spot and our visitors enjoyed the scenery while waiting for the van to free the road.
|Shotover River in its natural color|
I found an article of a young one, living in Queenstown in February 1902. He sent an article to the editor, Dot. The description is one of a child and very cute. Read what he had to say about the traffic on this unique mountain road:
Dear Dot, — I promised in my last letter to tell you about the road from Queenstown to Skippers. Well, suppose we are driving, from the time you leave Queenstown there is not much to see but hills till you get on the Skippers road, only there is a place on a hill where you can see Gladstone Head and two others the names of which I don't know. You can see them quite plain. When you get out to the junction of the roads you start and go up a hill which is over three miles long, and steep at that. You get a lovely view going up. When you reach the top, which is called the saddle, you have a hill to go down about the same distance as that you came up, only you can spin down. There are rocks high above and rocks straight down below you, and in some places there is just room for the trap, so if you see another trap coming ahead you have to get to a good place to pass, and wait there till it comes. Sometimes if they meet a waggon or dray they have to take the horses out and pull their waggon back to a place wide enough to pass. When you get near the bottom of the hill there is a hotel, the first house met with since you got on to the road. It looks a very wild place about here. There are mountains all round, and you can see the Shotover River from just below the hotel. There are a lot of sluicing claims around this part of the river, but you can't see any of them from the road. The road is pretty well all up and down hill the whole time. At Deep Creek a dredge is being built, and there are a lot of tents around there. There are a few women in the tents, too. At Maori Point there was a hotel, but it was burnt down some time ago. After you pass that there is a fair-sized hill to go up and another long one to go down, then you are at the largest bridge and the highest above the river of any in Otago. You are then at Skippers Point, but there are very few houses — only one hotel and one store, so it is not a very large city. There are a lot of claims around, and up further there are gold mines. Now, I think I have told you about all I know of the place. The road from Queenstown up is about 20 miles, so it is a good day's journey there and back.— Yours truly, Non
[It is indeed a wild country, Non, and I fancy your heart must have been in your mouth many a time while you were winding your way up that circuitous pass or spinning down the other side.— DOT.]
Here is the original