Guide to Canyoning in New Zealand's South Island

Are you interested in true adventure and wanting to get into a wilderness environment? If you are planning a holiday to New Zealand then you should seriously consider canyoning. The nature of this sport gets you into area’s very few get the privilege to visit.  Think crystal blue pools, waterfalls and truly untouched virgin forests – and if you are fit and love adventure this could be perfect for you.

Canyoning (canyoneering in the U.S.) is an outdoor adventure that takes you through a canyon that has been selected for it natural beauty and thrills. You experience stunning waterfalls and crystal blue pools in hidden ravines that very few people get to see. Experienced guide’s assist as you jump from rock walls, slide down naturally smoothed stone, swim in pristine water, and abseiling next to the rushing waters of New Zealand’s hidden waterfalls. It’s an exhilarating experience full of action, but with plenty of moments to take in the tranquility of the world around you.

 

Wanaka’s canyons are destinations for world-class canyoners from around the globe. They’re big canyons with steep schist rock walls, and often have high water rushing from the the mountains of Mt. Aspiring National Park - it’s hard to beat the canyons of the Southern Alps!

 

While canyoning is growing in popularity, in many places it’s an easy walk or scramble in shallow narrows. In New Zealand, you’ll be in for a grand adventure, geared up in wetsuits, helmets, and climbing harnesses prepared especially for canyoning. There are canyons to suit your experience and desired adrenaline level, with some canyons offering lots of opportunities to jump, and others with more emphasis on big abseils, including multi-pitches alongside waterfalls and into atmospheric caverns.

 

It’s wild to imagine a time when early explorers came upon these ravines and considered them impassable, describing them as “terrible chasms.” Early descents were accidental--explorers found themselves in the canyon and had no choice but to descend to reach the bottom. These days, the knowledge pool for canyon explorers is much bigger, and canyoners know what elements to study and how to plan an approach for an unknown canyon.

While canyoning is becoming more widespread, it’s not an activity to take lightly. Experienced canyoners and guides take each movement through the canyon with caution, knowing that a swirling eddy could trap even experienced swimmers, that high water levels and heavier flow can prevent safe passage, and that low water can present dangers in spots that would otherwise be simple to go through. They know what to watch for and how to maneuver around obstacles, even when in some cases, the walls are too steep and wet to prevent escape. The only exit is to keep descending.

 

That’s what makes a guided canyon trip so appealing. It’s a full day of adventure, where you’re learning a new skill and having a hands-on experience doing an activity you most likely would be prevented from doing were it not for the skill of your guide. So as you ponder what unique adventures to pursue during your limited time exploring wild and scenic New Zealand, remember to look beyond the peaks. There’s a whole world waiting beneath the waterfalls!

There are some equally exciting canyons to be found in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges and the Coromandel Peninsula – New Zealand’s North Island.In the South Island there is also canyoning to be found in the Abel Tasman National Park and Queenstown.

We can easily add any of these excursions into an exciting New Zealand driving holiday. Contact Us, we would love to hear from you.

Tags
Caving and Canyoning
Adventure
Brent Narbey
Submitted by
Brent Narbey
: 28 Aug 2017 (Last updated: 29 May 2018)

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