Skippers Road clings to the side of Skippers Canyon, which drops vertically to the Shotover River, once known as "the richest river in the world". Rental car companies won't allow their vehicles on this narrow, unsealed road, but there are plenty of local operators available to take you up the canyon. If you want to test your fitness, mountain biking is also an option.
The road was built during the gold rush, when a precarious pack track was the only access to Skippers township and the Upper Shotover diggings. Constructed between 1883 and 1890, the Skippers Road was considered a major engineering feat in its day. One three-kilometre stretch of the road involved hand drilling and blasting solid rock to create a platform 183 metres above the Shotover River. This daunting task required workers to hang on ropes high above the raging river. This section, aptly named Pinchers Bluff and the Devils Elbow, is a highlight of the road to Skippers.
Some people are lured up this precipitous road with adventure on their mind. There's rafting on the Shotover River, jetboating with Skippers Canyon Jet and 4WD adventures to Skippers. Others want to discover the amazing Upper Shotover scenery - dramatic schist bluffs and rock tors stand like sculptures in the tussock landscape. The road commands views of the Richardson Mountains to the west and the Harris Mountains to the east.