Tag Archives: adrenaline

Skippers Canyon

[landscapephotograph description=”Panoramic view of The Branches, on the Shotover River, Otago, New Zealand” photoname=”The Branches” photo=”https://timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Branches-Pan-1.jpg” photourl=”http://timmulholland.photoshelter.com/image/I00006jT26j8X7ko”][/landscapephotograph]  

Near Queenstown, New Zealand, there’s a slightly remote and very beautiful place called Skippers Canyon. Queenstown considers itself to be the Adrenaline Capitol of the World, and Skippers Canyon and its Shotover River might well be the adrenaline capitol of Queenstown.

  

Historically, Skippers Canyon was a major area for gold mining in the late nineteenth century. Today, it’s a beautiful tourism area where it’s nice to get away from Queenstown’s crowds. No, Queenstown isn’t that crowded, but it does have a moderately high “chic” factor that doesn’t do a whole lot for me, sort of like Aspen. It’s a very pleasant drive from Queenstown to Skippers Canyon by roundabout way of Arrowtown (which is much more my speed).

  

Some tourism sites call Skippers Canyon New Zealand’s “Grand Canyon.” Skippers Canyon is very nice, and it is quite “grand” by New Zealand standards, but it’s not even a close comparison to the Grand Canyon. If you rent a car or campervan in New Zealand, the Skippers Canyon road is one of those roads that’s considered to be “out of bounds,” as in you’re not supposed to drive your rental vehicle there because they won’t insure it. If you get in trouble there, you’ll have a hard time getting the car rental agency to come and help rescue you, especially since your cellphone likely won’t work there. I won’t advise anyone who rents a vehicle whether to drive this road; I will write, however, that I’ve driven on a lot more difficult gravel roads in rural Iowa (and, with a school bus).  Just don’t look down…

  

We’ve been to Skippers Canyon three times and enjoyed it every time. The first time was on a hot Christmas Day. We didn’t quite know what we were going to experience and I didn’t come fully prepared. But, we did enjoy our drive on the narrow ledges and dusty road. It also was exciting to see how some of the local youth were enjoying their Christmas celebration. These kids went to Skippers Bridge, which is near the formal end of the Canyon, set up their barbecue (or, “barbie” in the local dialect) and rigged their own private bungy jump site on this remote, quiet bridge. There’s a Christmas that you won’t forget!

  

The second time that we went, we drove a bit further and ate lunch at the old Skippers Point School, which is an historic landmark. If you want to see Skippers Canyon and don’t want to drive the road yourself, there are several different tour companies in Queenstown that will gladly take you. Three or four of these little four-wheel drive vans were at the school at the same time and their patrons were enjoying their picnic lunches with New Zealand’s finest wines.

  

The last time that we were in Skippers Canyon in early April, we drove to the far end. Before you get to Skippers Point, there’s a side road that you need to take – The Branches Road. If you drive The Branches road, then Skippers Point is about the halfway point. The Branches road was much more challenging – more ruts, narrower, and not very well maintained. The scenery beyond Skippers Point was nice, but not spectacular.  That is, until you reach the end of the formal road at The Branches Station.

  

OMG! The Branches Station must have one of the best, if not THE BEST, views and settings in all of New Zealand. The Branches sits in a broad glacial valley with the cobbled Shotover River running through it. To the southwest, the direction from which we’ve driven, the views are nice. But, to the northeast, the mountain views are amazing!!! The good news is that you, too, can enjoy The Branches Station. It’s a luxury accommodation and it seems that most people who visit likely arrive by helicopter, not in their pokey old Subarus. And, the pleasure of staying at The Branches will only cost you a mere NZ$10,000/night (I rounded up by one dollar; and, that’s for two people with a two-night minimum).

  

So, after enjoying the high life at the gate to The Branches Station, we returned back down the Skipper Road, enjoyed some ice cream in Queenstown and slowly made our way back to Invercargill.

  

Enjoy the gallery: 
  
46 S EnZed signing off…

   

Posted in New Zealand, Queenstown, Skippers Canyon, The Branches Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Adrenaline!

Queenstown, in the southern end of the South Island, markets itself as the “adrenaline capital of the world.”  We’ve had the pleasure of visiting it several times since we’ve been here, averaging about one visit a month. We’ve gone skiing in the area twice, once to The Remarkables and the second time to Cardrona (our preference of the two was Cardrona).  We once drove north from Queenstown to Glenorchy and the Paradise Valley.  But, this trip…  OH BABY!!!  🙂

 

 

Over Christmas, we lived it up, and some of us more than others!  Muir is visiting us, as he’s on college break from American University.  Since we have someone here now who is younger and more foolish than us, we decided to have more fun.

 

 

On Christmas Day, after opening our few presents, we drove up to Skippers Canyon, which is west of Queenstown.  Skippers Canyon is a part of the original New Zealand goldfields from the early 1860’s.  Today, it’s a beautiful little canyon for jet boats and four-wheel drives.  Our little Subaru was easily up to the task.  Christmas Day here was hot – ~80 degrees F – and Skippers Canyon seemed even a little warmer.  It was a pleasant drive, except for the part where I backed off of the road, trying to get out of the way of a tourist bus on a very narrow section of the road.

 

 

The day after Christmas was one of the more exciting days of Muir’s life.  For a Christmas present, we gave him the gift of adrenaline – his very own bungy jump experience!  It was so interesting to enjoy the mixed look of excitement, happiness, joy and fear on his face.  And, me being me, I had all kinds of fun making jokes about his impending doom.  🙂

 

 

Now, just to be clear, I would have bungy jumped, too – it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.  However, I have a couple of doctors who have advised me against it – something about my weak, old eyes and the distinct possibility of blindness.  So, I had to live vicariously…

 

 

The main bungy jump company in these parts is A.J. Hackett.  They operate three different bungy jumps in the Queenstown area.  Since this was Muir’s first time, we decided to go with the historic, first bungy jump location of the Kawarau Bridge for him.  There’s a location in Queenstown, but you jump off of a platform and head down toward a mountain slope which isn’t as exciting as jumping towards a river.  The other option is a major undertaking, Nevis Bridge, and it’s a bit higher – 143 m, vs. the 43m that Muir did at Kawarau. Without further adieu, here’s Muir (just click on the blue link below):

 

 

Muir at the Kawarau Bungy

 

 

Yep, that’s him, screaming like a big baby!  And, since he told me that he did feel a little uncomfortable hanging upside down with the blood rushing to his head, maybe it’s a good thing for my eyesight that I was just a spectator.

 

 

There are a lot of other things to do in Queenstown – horse riding, riding the gondola, eating (try Fergburger – it’s famous in these parts, but too much for us), riding the jet boats on the Shotover River, watching and feeding trout at the underwater world observatory, enjoying the zip line, shopping (ugh!), four-wheeling, riding mountain bikes, hiking, and a lot of other things…

Now, one of those other things is the Skyline Luge. OMG, what a great time! We went on the luge a couple of months ago, on our second or third trip to Queenstown.  Since Muir was here, we just HAD to do it again!  I remember riding my wagon down the little hill in our yard with my brother when I was growing up.  I have to say that the thrill is very similar, if not better, now that I’m older.  The luge tracks are a few hundred meters long and slope downhill with several twists and turns.  The scenic track is for beginners and it’s a bit slower, more twisty and the corners have cobbles on the edge to help slow you down when you miss the corners (which you will).   The adventure track is a bit steeper and faster, with a couple of slight jumps and the cobbles on the corners less aggressive.  The first time that you ride the luge each day, you must start on the scenic track; after that, you’re free to ride on either track. We rode the luges three times this day and I was smart enough to remember to try to capture a video on my second (and last) ride on the adventure track.  Yes, that’s me laughing in the video.  Also, I will say that it is more difficult to steer a luge when you also have your phone in your hand…  (just click on the blue link below)

 

 

Skyline Luge Adventure Track

 

 

My only question is why don’t they have a luge track and bungy jumping at Wisconsin Dells?  🙂

 

 

So, I hope that you enjoyed a part of our adrenaline rushes in Queenstown and I sincerely hope that you’ll have the opportunity to do the same!

 

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

 

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