Our site works best with JavaScript enabled.

Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Canyoning in the Southern Alps

By Alpkit | 12, Nov, 2012

Canyoning in New Zealand

What do you get when you combine climbing, kayaking, caving and a gigantic children’s water park?  I couldn’t quite believe it when I stumbled across the relatively unheard of sport of canyoning. Already an avid caver and climber, I had never suspected that I could get all the exploration, remoteness, and technical rope work out of a sport that didn’t involve large amounts of darkness, mud, and misery. On my first canyons trips I found myself giggling like a child as I leapt off cliffs and slid down natural water slides!

Canyoning is not without its dangers though, quite the contrary, especially once you move beyond the relatively easy, pre-bolted canyons any beginner can find in guidebooks all over Europe and the US. First descents of unexplored alpine canyons involve a massive amount of commitment, as helicopter rescue is usually not an option, sheer canyon walls often mean that down is the only way out in case of a flood, and unknown waterfalls and hazards lie around every corner. But, in the name of exploration, this is exactly what a small group of us plan to do for a few weeks in January 2013 on an expedition to the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

New Zealand is blessed with both mountains and rivers, so the canyoning potential is huge, but the combination of few people, difficult access, and variable weather means that very little exploration has been done outside of a few known areas. A friend of mine and the expedition leader, Daniel Clearwater, set up Kiwi Canyons in 2010 to collect what little information there is on New Zealand’s canyons, and he has received all sorts of tantalising snippets of information from park rangers, kayakers, helicopter pilots etc, including reports of 100m+ waterfalls and tight, enclosed canyon walls over 40m high.

Thanks to Daniel’s hard work and his website, our expedition is well armed with information, but we still have to carefully study the geology, topology and hydrology of our prospective canyons to ensure safety and to make sure we spend our time wisely on the best canyons. Unlike a mountain where you can study photos or take reconnaissance flights, the only true way to understand the challenges of a canyon and see its beauty is to drop in and descend it.

We’ve assembled a small team of friends based in New Zealand, Australia, US, and UK for the expedition. We combine a varied set of skills (including a geology PhD student, a medical doctor, and a helicopter pilot) which we hope will give us a great chance of finding some world class canyons!
Our specific objectives for the expedition are to challenge ourselves and explore virgin canyons, but the larger goal is to promote canyoning as a sport in New Zealand. By photographing and documenting our expedition, we plan to add to the slowly growing New Zealand canyon database, providing people from all over the world with more areas to go canyoning.

Adventure awaits us!

Richard Bramley (Team Pata-Gona-Get-Yah)

  • Google+

In pictures

No Comments

Share your thoughts about this article.

Daring Deeds

When daring dreams turn into nightmares
Taking on the Three Peaks Challenge
The three highest peaks in the UK in one day.
Rich and Tom Siepp Pre-Tour Divide ride
Rich and Tom's kit list and pre-amble for their Tour Divide route ride
Himalayan Adventures: Part 3
Not everything goes to plan in the Himalayas
The Iceland National Trail: Part 2
Ben Turner recounts a day on the Iceland National Trail
Dark Ice Training
Training for the North Pole in Canada
Riding the Old Ghost Road
Customer Story
Seals and a Beast of a Paddle Home
Customer Story

More from Deeds


Glacial Retreats in Arctic Norway
Josh Leigh commences research in Arctic Norway
A Walking Work of Art
Solo trek round the entire coast of mainland Scotland
APEX 5 Medical Research
Medical Research in Bolivia
Renegades Out Of Bounds - Kyrgyzstan 2014
Exploring the remote Kyrgyzstan scenery. With Boards and Skis in tow.
Team Manoeuvres - August
News and Daring Deeds from the Team.
PolarBears and Paddleboards
10 people on Paddle Boards, 100 km of iceberg littered fjord.
Kayak Borneo Rolling Expedition
Finding whitewater in Borneo's jungles.

More from News


What’s So Great About Merino Wool?
What's all this fuss about Merino wool?
The low-down on Polygiene™
Wear more, wash less: you can't get simpler than that!
Sonder Bikes Arriving Soon
Everyone has a story. Whats yours?
Putting the PipeDream 800 to the test
Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor expedition
Ed of the Vassalopet
The longest and largest cross country ski race in the world
Filo in Nepal
Filo tested in Nepal

More from Develop


Choosing a 4 season tent
Which tent should I buy?
Kendal Mountain Festival 2016
Its Film Festival time
Hut Living
the delights of staying in huts
Adventure Pedlars - A company born out of a 20,000km bike ride:

Catch Nature off Guard
Travel Quieter, Lighter and further, and stay out longer
Bikepacking what to pack
What to Pack for 100 miles over 2 days
Versatile lightweight cookset
Jay creates a set from the new Appkit cookware range.
Your companion in adventure
Filo the go anywhere down jacket

More from Spotlight


More from Kudos

Be the first to hear about our newest products and promotions

Join AlpCol's Espresso newsletter for that hit of Go Nice Places, Do Good Things Greatness


By adding your email you consent to our terms and conditions