Canyoning in New Zealand

One of the more unusual and exciting outdoor activities is to make your way down a canyon by jumping, swimming, zip lining, sliding and abseiling. It’s a memorable experience, if quite terrifying at times depending on your experience / comfort with heights / slippery surfaces / water.

I’ve done it three times, though not for a number of years. As I’ve aged I have less appetite for risk, or at least the sort of risks associated with canyoning. Never say never though…

My first experience was nine years ago in Blue Canyon, in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland. Unfortunately it is not possible to repeat due to the extensive park closures to try and combat the spread of Kauri dieback disease, though Piha Canyon appears open for canyoning.

Donning a wetsuit, life jacket, helmet and abseil harness we hiked up through the bush for nearly an hour. We then made our way down the canyon, starting with wading and jumps. Some could be quite free, while precision was required for others, as missing the mark by a few feet would likely result in broken bones.

Coming across waterfalls we abseiled down them, quite challenging with feet on wet, slippery rocks, while a water pours down onto you.

The scariest, if most refreshing, parts involved sliding down wet rocks into the water below, particularly when sliding on your back, head first!

The second time was Queenstown Canyon. This was more epic than in the Waitakere’s, great fun.

My third and last, to date, was near Wanaka which introduced zip lines, and a professional photographer that accompanied the group. Good idea from a safety perspective as trying to take selfies while jumping off wet rocks is not advisable.

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