NZ – Wanaka and the Great Canyon Adventure!

– MARCH 11, 2015

Today we arrived at the town of Wanaka.  It’s about an hour north of Queenstown (our next destination) and the only thing we have down for Wanaka is a canyoning adventure.  The cool thing was when we arrived at Wanaka it had the exact same feel and look as Kelowna, BC.  It looks like God took a frying pan and smacked it right into a mountain range, then provided a beautiful lake for the town to surround it.  I am a fan of Kelowna, so this was a nice surprise.  Even the town around it looked just like Kelowna.

Kelowna v2.0

Kelowna v2.0

So 8am came and our guides came to our camp site to pick us up for what is advertised as a 12 hour adventure from start to finish.  It was actually 9.5 hours, but still that’s a long day.  We then checked our gear and rode for an hour to reach the canyon.  When we arrived we were then informed that it would be a 2 hour bush walk up a steep hill to find the start.  This was not in the brochure, but we trekked on anyhow.

The deep bush bashing to get there took 90 minutes!

The deep bush bashing to get there took 90 minutes!

Undeterred, we kept up with our guides and did it in only 90 minutes.

The road less travelled.

The road less travelled…yes, I carried Jill’s equipment as well.

The path was not marked, so our guides got lost a few times, but then quickly found the “trail”.  This is the most difficult canyoning in New Zealand, so they don’t want anyone using the path and then getting hurt in the canyon with nobody there to help.  It was fun to watch the guides get lost…you never know when they’re kidding around or truly lost though.

The road less travelled.

The road less travelled.

At the end we found the starting point, but it was a 75 degree slope straight down to the canyon.  We carefully held onto trees and branches as we descended downward to the canyon.  This was the most dangerous thing we have done on this trip thus far…they really need to find a new path to the start.  It could easily have been bad trouble for one false step…I kid you not!

Once we reached the bottom we unpacked and had a small lunch on the rocks.  Then we geared up and posed for the picture below.

We reached the starting point for the canyon after 90 minutes!

We reached the starting point for the canyon after 90 minutes!

The scenery around us was breathtaking.

Amazing scenery as we had a quick lunch.

Amazing scenery as we had a quick lunch.

 

The canyon adventure begins!

The canyon adventure begins!

 

The "crew"!

The “crew”!

There were opportunities to slide, crawl, swim, leap and abseil throughout the 3 hour time in the canyon itself…and of course opportunities to pose for the camera!

Sliding was a key component to canyon adventure success.

Sliding was a key component to canyon adventure success.

 

You had to stop every once a while to take it all in!

You had to stop every once a while to take it all in!

The water was as high as safely allowed, so we got the best experience possible.  It was fast moving water though…no joke!  Each step had to be carefully executed and your knees had to be strong.

The power of nature!

The power of nature!

There were abseiling opportunities throughout the canyon.  I can’t imaging how the guides got the anchors there in the first place.

Time to get on down!

Time to get on down!

 

A pose for the brochures!

A pose for the brochures!

 

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

 

The water level was as high as safely allowed...any more and we couldn't do this.

The water level was as high as safely allowed…any more and we couldn’t do this.

The conditions of the canyon were crazy!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

And they even employed the use of the spiderman technique.

The spiderman technique was one tool in our arsenal.

The spiderman technique was one tool in our arsenal.

Every step was different.  Deep then shallow then deep….etc.

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

Jill said she isn’t afraid of heights…looks like the truth to me.

Just hanging around.

Just hanging around.

Just don’t look down!

No drama mate!

No drama mate!

 

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

Then we had a chance to make a big jump…see the splash below!

A big jump into a pool made this huge splash!

A big jump into a pool made this huge splash!

Every abseil opportunity was new and interesting.

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

It was helpful to find a ledge every so often as the guides checked ahead.  This location was named “Hintze Pool”.  We staked our claim!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

This was 90 minutes by foot to get there, then 3 hours in the canyon!

After three hours in the canyon (and more than 6 in total) we arrived at the bridge for the final walk.

The end of the canyon adventure.

The end of the canyon adventure.

Victory!

One last stroll to the jeep.

One last stroll to the jeep.

Still smiles from everyone!  We tamed the hardest and longest canyon in New Zealand!

Smiles all around! Our guides were very professional.

Smiles all around! Our guides were very professional.

We then took off our gear and got into the jeep for the one hour drive back to Wanaka.  By the time we got there we were dead tired…just enough energy to have dinner and go to sleep.  This was a great day and one we would love to do again, but it was also the most expensive thing we have done/will do in New Zealand.

Now on to Queenstown and bungee jumping, sky-diving and river boarding!

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For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.

3 thoughts on “NZ – Wanaka and the Great Canyon Adventure!

  1. OMG Ken and Jill I’m living this vicariously! What an adventure. We have a good friend in Wanaka – Laura Williamson. She’s canadian, a writer, cyclist and really neat woman. Is you are still there look her number up! Living the dream you two.

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    • Thanks Brenda! We may have an open day, so we might be able to get back to Wanaka. For now we are heading east to see a friend of Jill’s parents, then we head to the south end of the south island. Its hard to fathom we are only 26 days into a 14 month epic journey!

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