Skippers Canyon rated one of world's most dangerous roads

By Ben Irwin

Skippers Canyon near Queenstown. Photo / Dean Purcell
Skippers Canyon near Queenstown. Photo / Dean Purcell

A stretch of road in the South Island is one of the 22 most dangerous in the world, according to a British driving firm.

Driving Experience has labelled Skippers Canyon Road, 25 minutes from Queenstown in the Mt Aurum Recreation Reserve, as "unbelievably scary as it is beautiful".

The gravel road is predominantly used by tour buses and commercial tourism operators for activities such as jet boating.

The rating was part of an interactive map that the firm made, supposedly based on the World Health Organisation's 2013 global status report on road safety as well as other data sets, which highlights some of the most dangerous roads around the world.

The report gives Skippers Canyon an "overall road fear factor'' of 7 out of 10, saying: "While fatality numbers are relatively low, this mountain road with its huge drop into the ravine below is so dangerous it requires a huge amount of concentration, patience and even a special permit to even try and tackle it."

It went on to say: "The extremely narrow path, cut in the middle of a sheer cliff face, makes it hugely difficult to manoeuvre any vehicle."

Mike Noon, Automobile Association road safety and infrastructure spokesman, said it was not a surprise that it was on the list of dangerous roads.

"It's above a river, it's got some big drop-offs, it's really narrow and it's very difficult to pass other vehicles,'' he said. "It's not a road I think I would choose to drive myself on my own."

Some corners of the road had been "bricked in" under the cliff to create the road. But he said the road was mainly used by experienced tourism operators and not by the public.

While Skippers Canyon made the list, its' "overall road fear factor" was well below that of other dangerous roads on the list.

Bolivia's North Yungas Road, known as the "Road of Death'', has a 10 out of 10 "fear factor''.

The road, which in some places is only 3m wide and has drops of up to 1000m, claims hundreds of lives every year with vehicles regularly plunging off the side.

World's most dangerous, according to Driving Experience

1. North Yungas Road — Bolivia
2. Nanga Parbat Pass — Pakistan
3. Zoji La — India
4. BR-116 — Brazil
5. Trans Siberian Highway — Russia
6. Ruta 5 — Chile
7. Guoliang Road — China
8. Nairobi Highway — Kenya
9. Jame Dalton Highway — Alaska
10. Taroko Gorge road — Taiwan

- NZ Herald

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