4WD Adventures in Queenstown

Travel the rugged road and follow in the footsteps of the original pioneers on their quest for gold!

There’s much more to Queenstown than jumping off bridges

In the mid-19th Century the town found itself at the heart of the Otago gold rush, remnants of which can still be found today throughout the region today. The remains of the abandoned townships of Skippers Canyon and Macetown are nestled deep in the backcountry but can still be accessed by visitors on foot or by bike - or in true kiwi style, by four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle.

Skippers Canyon

The once treacherous road in to Skippers Canyon was hand-blasted and drilled over nearly a decade during the gold rush of the 1880s.  Rental vehicles are not insured on this precarious yet exhilarating drive, which is best tackled in a 4WD vehicle with an experienced driver.

You will feel as though you are following in the very footsteps of the early pioneers as you travel the 22km journey, passing the township of Skippers and relics from the gold mining that took place here. Bounded by tall snow-capped mountains and following the aquamarine Shotover River, the road itself also offers plenty of photo opportunities.


Long since abandoned after the gold rush, Macetown has now been transformed in to a Department of Conservation reserve. Situated 16km from Arrowtown and accessible only by rugged 4WD road and crossing the Arrow River 22 times each way, this former gold mining settlement is rich in history and adventure. Macetown's major historic structures were restored in a project completed in 2008, including a cottage and bakery that provide a fascinating insight in to the lives of the early settlers.

Even to this day you can spot people panning for gold in these locations, hoping to strike it lucky in some of the richest gold-bearing rivers in the world.

Experience true off-roading and local history with established Queenstown operator Nomad Safaris, which has run guided 4WD trips in to Macetown and Skippers for over two decades. Both trips include gold panning and refreshments. More information on Nomad Safaris tours can be found here: www.nomadsafaris.co.nz 

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