Friday, 26 March 2010

Kiwis learn more about their own heritage

We had the pleasure to host a small group of Kiwis - New Zealanders from Auckland - who visited their own country and enjoyed our unforgettable Skippers Canyon tour. They commented that this experience was 'just spectacular and the changing colors of the trees in the canyon created a fairytale memory'.

A comment which we receive quite often from New Zealanders is that they believe that especially Kiwis should do this tour. 'There is so much to learn about our own history'. From our point of view, I see that diving a little bit into this historic area opens up a new understanding about how it must have been for the early settlers. This challenging area in Skippers Canyon truly forced every single man and woman to come up with their best attitude towards survival. This was certainly no place for easy-going people who shy away from work and absolutely no good place for people who thought everything will be presented on a plate to them.

I believe knowing more about the history of Skippers Canyon can explain a bit more about the can-do attitude Kiwis seem to have:
  • They look how the neighbor is doing things and then it is copied - not a bad idea as such, if you ask me.
  • Collaborate with each other but only to a certain point - projects like goldmining can only be handled in a team. Gains like Gold are most certainly not shared though.
  • Have fun with your family and friends when ever you can - I believe fun was scarce in historic Skippers but they managed to organize games and community get-aways to relax a bit.
  • Be independent as much as possible
I can see those characteristics in my team members who conduct the tours for me. They are through and through Kiwis. The passion they have for their own 'backyard' comes naturally and enables every single customer to reach a certain stage of awe for Skippers Canyon.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Some Things Never Change

It is always special and very dear to us when customers provide us with a truly remarkable feedback. A while ago, a Gentleman from Australia contacted us. He enjoyed our tour into Skippers Canyon very much. After his return home, he went into his attic to look for an old postcard which he knew he still had. This postcard was handed over to us and is since treasured! The postcard was sent to convey Seasons Greetings and was posted in December 1907.


Horse-drawn carriage was the preferred way to visit Skippers Canyon at the turn of the last century. An entry in the 1925 'Official Southland Guide' described the journey to Skippers Point as follows:
SKIPPERS. Lake County. Is a wild and romantic mining district, about twenty miles from Queenstown, from which place the trip to Skippers is considered the premier excursion for tourists, daily trips being made, leaving at 8 am and returning at 6 pm, the mode of conveyance being by coach, each comfortably accommodating ten passengers, all box seats, thus ensuring an uninterrupted view. The return fare, including morning tea and luncheon, is 19 shillings. Post Office and Telephone. Population, 21.

How little things have changed: you can still travel each day into Skippers, though the mode of transportation has slightly changed. The thing that hasn't changed is Skippers Canyon itself. Have a look at the following picture which shows the exact place as shown on the postcard above:


Skippers Canyon - a truly remarkable place! Make sure you visit it.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Taffic Jams in Skippers Canyon

Just a few days ago, we heart someone say, that they would not like to go into Skippers Canyon due to the traffic jams in there. We would like to clarify this.

There are basically no traffic jams in the canyon. It is true though, that there are several operators who offer either sightseeing or other tours into Skippers but this traffic most certainly does not culminate in traffic jams.

All commercial operators know this area very well - it is their office at the end of the day! They all know where the best passing bays are and they all know the rule 'give way to uphill traffic'. So there is basically nothing to be worried about.

The last traffic jam we experienced was during the time as Skippers Bridge was repaired. No major work was needed and the bridge was and still is absolutely stable and save to be crossed. The 'traffic jam' (if we can even call it that way) would create a waiting time for us for up to 20 minutes. During this time, the workers who were doing the repairs could move their gear and let us pass. Those repairs are completed now and as a matter of fact where quite interesting to observe.


It is true, too that a lot of traffic took place in Skippers at the time where Queenstown was not so commercially advanced as it is now. Quite some years ago, visitors to Queenstown could only enjoy the Earnslaw Steamer over Lake Wakatipu, take the gondola up the hill or travel into Skippers. But nowadays, visitors have plenty of activities to choose from and a tour into Skippers Canyon is only 1 option.

Particularly if you choose to travel with us on an afternoon tour, your chances are high that we are the only ones in the canyon - this is how the traffic decreased over the years. We actually quite like it this way as it enables us to let you, our customers, fully enjoy this unique area at your own pace.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Spur of the Moment Attraction: Picnic at Welcome Home Pub

Usually, we offer our customers a small break from enjoying Skippers Canyon. We do this by serving a little picnic - in the middle of nowhere: we put up our picnic table, cover it with a table cloth, serve coffee or tea in a porcelain mug or spoil our customers with a glass of Queenstown local wine - all refreshments are complimentary and don't have to be consumed, but why wouldn't you?


Our usual spot for offering those refreshments are at Skippers Point. Our customers can visit the restored Schoolhouse (which is now converted into a museum) while we prepare the picnic. On the odd occasion, we do our picnic at other places.

Once, we had our afternoon picnic at the Welcome Home Pub. A lovely spot: sheltered from wind and right next to the remains of the pub that used to be one of the places where people went to enjoy a drink. Today, only the chimney is visible. The Welcome Home Pub or Welcome Home Inn, as it was called earlier, was twice destroyed by fire during its lifetime. The hotel was the first in the area and was built by John McArthur in 1863.  In 1889, a fire destroyed the site completely. It was re-built on its current location, again destroyed by fire in the 1930's, rebuilt, and finally demolished in 1951.


A 'Must-Do' in Queenstown even if you are scared of heigths

Skippers Canyon is a canyon with steep drops to one side. You travel on Skippers Road along side this remarkable gorge. You look down into the canyon and can observe this breathtaking area from up top. Skippers Road is a mountain road, unsealed and under the protection of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Sometimes we entertain a customer in our minibus who is a bit nervous due to the drops along side the road.
One Lady though commented that the tour into Skippers Canyon is a 'Must-Do' in Queenstown even if you are scared of heights.

Our Driver/Guides pay extra attention to customers who are a bit scared of height. We offer seat rotation and adjust our driving speed to the level where it is comfortable for this particular customer. Generally, after the picnic break in Skippers Point, all worries are gone and even the little bit scared customers can then fully enjoy this marvelous canyon in the backcountry of Queenstown.

comfortable ride into Skippers Canyon

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Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand
I receive so many comments from our customers and wish to share them with you. All comments are verbally given to me or my team.