Skippers Canyon Road. Photo: ODT Files
An iconic Otago stretch of road 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
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
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
- Ben Irwin of the New Zealand Herald