Friday 12 - Had a bit of a lie in in the moring and in the afternoon went on a Goldseekers tour to Skippers Canyon, which is northish of Queenstown. I was the only one on the tour apart from a DOC woman who was there to inspect the tour. To get there we drove up to Coronet Peak and then went on Skippers Road. The road was just a gravel track, very narrow and with sheer drops in places and no barriers. Lots of the corners were named and one was called 'Bus Scratch corner' and it was easy to see why it got its name. And this was the good road that was built relatively recently - the old one was to the right of the valley and descended really steeply to the valley floor. The valley we were in was called Long Gully valley and it gave some amazing views, including looking towards Mt Araum, which was a snow topped mountain. After about 30 minutes we reached Skippers Canyon. The river that runs through it is the Shotover river which drains from Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown. Most of the drive we were looking down at the river from high and steep cliffs. The evidence of past mining was very clear by all of the damage that had been done to the cliffs. Commercial mining is now banned. The guide called Warren knew loads about the area and gold mining and kept up a good commentary most of the way. Along the way were the occasional restored miners hut, and by Skippers bridge was the old school that had been restored. The spot below the bridge was the other location for the Ford of Bruinen. We didn't go over the bridge as it had a weight limit, but continued on along the canyon for about 20 minutes until the valley widened out. We stopped by the green and then we panned for gold in the river. Its actually quite difficult to get the technique right. Warren said the river wasn't good at the moment to find gold. But I did get a bit - in my pan was an extremely tiny speck of gold, but it was gold and it was my gold!. We got a little bottle with 2 tiny flakes of gold in it anyway from the tour so I added my speck to it. There were picnic tables on the green so as part of the tour we had a cup of tea and some homemade scones - cheese and bacon, and apple and cinnamon and some anzac biscuits. They were really nice and I took some back to the hostel with me. We then had to leave to head back, but we did go down to the river and stopped by the location of the Ford of Bruinen, which was quite recognisable (that's if you've seen the films). Skippers Canyon area is really nice in a rugged, remote kind of way. Some people (not many) actually live out here, mostly farmers (ie sheep). I really cant understand why anyone would want to live somewhere so islolated and remote. There is only one road in and out of Skippers Canyon, and it often gets blocked by slips or is closed due to bad weather. Couldn't be bothered to cook when I got back, and I was updating this site for 3 hours! so I got a KFC and took it back to the hostel.