Beautiful New Zealand road also ranked 'unbelievably scary' in top 10

Beautiful and terrifying ... Skippers Canyon above the Shotover River, near Queenstown.
Beautiful and terrifying ... Skippers Canyon above the Shotover River, near Queenstown. Photo: Getty Images

A British company has listed the Skippers Canyon road in New Zealand's Central Otago region among the world's 22 most dangerous roads, but the council responsible for the road disputes the listing.

Firm Driving Experiences gave the road an "overall road fear factor" of seven out of 10, but also rated it as one of only three low-risk roads on the list.

Any challenges posed by the route, north of Queenstown, seem to pale into insignificance compared with many of the other roads on the list.

The North Yungas Road in Bolivia gets a 10/10 fear factor and is rated high risk.

Also known as the Road of Death, it was said to be the most dangerous road in the world, the list said.

It had uneven tracks sometimes only 3 metres wide, with sheer drops of up to 1000m.

"Each year, hundreds of deaths are caused by vehicles plunging off the road while trying risky overtaking manoeuvres."

A bypass tunnel opened in 2006 skirted the most dangerous section of the road.

The list said the Br-116 road in Brazil, nicknamed the Highway of Death, was responsible for thousands of deaths each year.

"It's not just the weather and road conditions that make a journey on the Br-116 so treacherous, police patrols are scarce and drivers are often at risk of being attacked by gangs and armed bandits," it said.

The Nanga Parbat Pass, or the Fairy Meadows Road, in Pakistan is rated high risk with a 9/10 fear factor.

The most dangerous part of the pass up to Fairy Meadow was a 10-kilometre climb on an unpaved and uneven road.

"There are no barriers to prevent a vehicle from falling off the cliff to a fiery death," the list said.

In China, the Guoliang Tunnel Road was hollowed out of the side of a mountain by villagers who wanted to be connected to the outside world.

Called the Road That Tolerates No Mistakes, it fortunately has minimal traffic.

Driving Experiences said the Skippers Canyon road was "as unbelievably scary as it is beautiful".

It said the narrowness of the road meant that if two vehicles had to pass each other, one might have to reverse for up to 3km to get to a place that was wide enough.

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

A sign warns that the road is narrow and prone to slips, that some vehicles are not insured past that point and that there is no turnaround for 6km.

The route is gravel and maintained by the Queenstown Lakes District Council to the standard of a back-country road.

Council spokeswoman Michele Poole said the item on the road was inaccurate.

"It's a perfectly safe road as long as you drive to the conditions. It's very well signposted," she said.

It was used daily and safely by residents, tourist companies and visitors.

Tourist companies would not take clients on the road if it was unsafe.

Snow usually closed the route for two to three months in winter, during which time some residents moved out, she said.

Mail Online reported that the list was based on the World Health Organisations's 2013 global status report on road safety and other data sets.

- Fairfax NZ News

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