Wednesday, November 2, 2011

10-25-2011, Blue Canyon, Waitakeri Ranges, New Zealand

 Sky Tower

One of my top priorities for this trip was to bag some New Zealand canyons. I've only experienced Los Padres canyons prior to this trip. I found a guide company called CanyoNZ that offered a couple local canyon trips. I thought I'd start with their easier canyon first. My brother decided to join me as well. We met up with our guides Tom and Elise at the base of Sky Tower. We also met out other trip companions. There were some Irish guys, some South Africans guys, a French dude, and a South African couple. I think they were all here to attend the Rugby World Cup. 

After introductions we all piled in to some vans and the guides drove us to a farm house in the Waitakeri region. We were then outfitted with some wet suits, helmets, and harnesses. I had brought my own canyoneering boots, but they had shoes for everyone else to use. Another short drive and we were at the trailhead to Blue Canyon. We tramped up for about twenty minutes to the top of the canyon. It's a beautiful, rain forest environment. There's lot's of ferns and green plants. I've trained myself to be always be on the look out for poison oak, but there's no need for that here. We put on all our equipment and then got a short lesson on abseiling from the guides. Then it was time to start down the canyon. It began with a few jumps into the cold water. The guides encouraged us to have fun, and we did.

There are many jumps

Next was a waterslide that we went down backwards. Then maybe some more jumps? I can't remember the exact order of things. There were a lot features to this canyon. At some point we had to make a mildly high abseil. I went down first, well one of the guides went down first, but I was the first client down. I sat on a rock in the middle of a pool at the base of the waterfall, and watched everyone else come down. I was kicking my feet in the water when I noticed a four foot long eel swimming a few feet away. I chased him around a bit, but couldn't catch him. Maybe another slide or two then I think we took a short break for lunch and some hot tea. We were all getting along well and enjoying the experience.

Backwards waterslide

While we finished our sandwiches one of the guides rigged up the next abseil. I don't know why they use the word "abseil" here instead of "rappel". I forgot to ask. It's probably because it's a French word. Kiwis hate French stuff. I did ask what type of rock the canyon was cut from. Tom told me it was a basalt conglomerate. It's a super tough product of volcanic activity millions of years ago.

There were a few abseils

And more jumps

Another abseil, some more jumps and slides then one last abseil and we were done with the canyon. We took a short walk back to the vans. From there we returned to the farmhouse to get changed. Then we were off back to Auckland.

This was fun canyon. Nothing too scary. The guides were really professional and friendly. They kept everything safe, but still made it a really enjoyable, memorable experience.  

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Last time we were in NZ my brother and I did the blackwater rafting in Waitomo. First time wearing 8mm suits and waterproof spelunking helmets, but awesome.