Bullendale - Skippers Canyon

Casual Saturday when you pick up the phone and send messages to some friends to see who's keen to ride the NEVER BORING Skippers Canyon. I didn't have to wait long for a response... I met up with Rob from Me, My Bike and I, who is always keen for any kind, shape, type and form of riding :D. He came here all the way from the UK on Theresa :D

By the time we got into the Coronet Peak road (access road to Skippers Road), another message popped up on the phone. Damian is on his way about and an hour to get to us. 

We decided to head into the Skippers and wait for Damo in the old settlement next to Cementery. The ride was, as always, amazing and exposed the incredible views, playing with shadows and fast-changing scenery. Skippers never disappoint. 

We got to the bridge and SURPRISE the Automobile club had their annual ride and meet up in the settlement. It was a feast to our eyes and ears seeing and hearing those well-maintained vehicles riding the Skippers. Sitting between age imprinted buildings and surrounded by those relics of automotive history was one of the greatest afternoons in Skippers. We listened to the stories from owners about their pride and joy trips across the country AWESOME. 

We spotted Damian riding on the other side, he is that type of the rider who barely keeps his front wheel on the ground :D. He took the wrong turn at the junction and is heading towards Branches. We tried to call him at the same time with no luck, but it was hilarious seeing him pinning the throttle trying to get to us as he promised. Luckily he realized that was not the road. 

After arriving at the CORRECT meetup point, we had a quick discussion about the road none of us did before: TIGER TRAIL to BULLENDALE DYNAMO STATION. Quick YES and off we go for an adventure to explore... WE ARE ALL YES MEN HERE 

Once we entered the trail — wow — I've realized that's a pinnacle of riding in Skippers, it will be adventerous. We took the drone out and started filming.

We were unprepared with gear and protective equipment for what we discovered. But we decided to push as much as we could safely, managed to get to the ROCK, where going down is OK, but getting up with the water flowing from the creek above making the ROCK very slippery. This time late afternoon might be a risk we might not want to take. One of us was on Yamaha Tenere which doesn't make climbing rock easy!


We decided to go back and prepare in a more safe manner for the next time ... On the way back, since Damo already did a bit of Branches, we decided to go that road for a good run, as often it's less crowdy than the main road and just as rewarding. At the end of the road is a great viewing point.

Some things to remember... During summer days the temperature can go as high as 40 degrees, so take plenty of water. On some occasions, the river will be very murky. Water on the way to Bullendale contains many heavy metals. In the winter time, however, it can drop as low as minus 20! The road can be frosty and icicles will form on the rocks as the sun will not shine on some rocks for a couple of months in some sections. There is no phone network coverage, however, there are people living in the Canyon all year round. I am not saying that they will always welcome you but they do have their workshop at the Skippers Canyon Jet Boat — treat it as an emergency if you need some help.


The road may have landslides and slips. Actually, while writing this article, Queenstown Lakes District Council put a photo on their Facebook page of a rockslide blocking the road. Check the latest news before you go on Facebook @QLDCinfo and their website.

In some articles, people are putting Skippers Canyon Road as one of the top 10 world's most dangerous public roads!


Branches Junction
Photo 1 of Bullendale - Skippers Canyon
Before the bridge there is a junction going up that's a 4WD road to Branches station
Bullendale / Dynamo Station
For the 4 wheel drive fans it is better known as Tiger Trail
Reg Plate Says it all :D
Skippers Canyon Settlement
Reg Plate Says it all
Skipper Canyon school
Branches Road
Branches Station view
Example of the recent slip in Skippers
Road was blocked for weeks
Bullendale Access Area and Branches Road in Skippers Canyon, Queenstown
A short movie from our casual trip to Bullendale and Branches road
Author of this article: Hacksaw