Raglan Rock: Canyoning in Nature’s Water Park

We say goodbye to an epic week in Waitomo and say hello to an epic day in Raglan. Yes, we’re heading back to Raglan! Not only do we want to play with the new beagle puppy at Raglan Backpackers, but we are keen to try a new activity in Raglan that we didn’t get time to do last time: rock climbing and canyoning in Raglan!

After a morning of work, we leave Juno Hall backpackers in Waitomo and make our way back to Raglan, just a 1h20min drive (this time in the rain). We leave the cow-covered hills of Waitomo and enter the winding roads of Raglan, singing to some golden oldie tunes like “The Final Countdown”.

Ocean the beagle puppy is so cute she makes us want to die so that she is the last thing we see! (too far)?

Raglan looks a bit different from last time with a haze of fog hanging over it, but we’re happy to see some familiar faces back at the hostel, and… the PUPPY!!!!! Oh my god, Ocean the beagle puppy is adorable! So soft and squishy… Laura has been anticipating this meeting since the day she spotted the poster in the Raglan Backpackers a couple of weeks ago saying they hostel was getting a puppy. We don’t have time to play for too long though, as Gareth from Raglan Rock is coming to pick us and a few more people from the hostel up to take us on a canyoning/caving/climbing adventure!

Suit up for the stream!

We wolf down a lunch of sandwiches, a carrot and a banana each from the free food shelf just before Gareth arrives to gives us the rundown of what we are doing today. Because the weather is wet, why not continue in the wet theme? He is eager to show us a spot where we follow a hidden stream in native bush with a few obstacles along the way. Let’s do it!

We suit up with some base layers and wetsuits, hop in the van and get on our way to Raglan Rock’s secret spot. We say “secret” because this is quite a new tour, so not many people can say they have been here.

After taking various gravel roads, we arrive beside a grassy field. This really IS a secret spot, because we are not spotting any streams here! To get us warmed up before we set off, Gareth gets us to do a banana dance. It’s hilarious yet effective.

We are now pumped and ready to go! The six of us in our group follow Gareth under a wire fence (crawling under like the Great Escape) and over towards a flax bush. Here’s the stream!

The flax is your friend

There’s no messing about, “Get in!” Gareth shouts as he is already wading through the water. Of course, Laura, as always, goes first and the rest follow one by one. We follow Gareth down the stream, using the flax to keep balance as there are a few rocks to get over. There’s a concrete pipe up ahead, just big enough to fit a person in it. Normal people would walk around it… We float on our stomachs through it!

More flax fondling, rock rambling and the terrain is getting more and more complex, as we enter a forested area complete with waterfalls. We can’t imagine what it was like for Gareth discovering this place!

Raglan Rock dream team Raglan Rock dream team
1,2,3, JUMP! 1,2,3, JUMP!
Robin is action with the camera Robin is action with the camera
Just chilling on a waterfall, no big deal Just chilling on a waterfall, no big deal

Leaping from waterfalls

Straight to our first waterfall, Gareth clips our harness to his rope and we take it in turns to climb halfway down the waterfall.

“Jump into the white water!” Gareth voice reminds us among the gushing sounds of the waterfall. “3,2,1..” There’s nothing like a countdown to make you want to jump! Usually, there is nothing that would make us want to jump off a waterfall (Robin is afraid of heights and Laura is slightly afraid of jumping off high things), but Gareth succeeds to get us down with no hesitation. The cold water spills over our heads and takes our breath away. Gawd, so many feelings! Most of all: achievement!

The stream from here is a cascade of waterfall after waterfall, all tiered for easy climbing. Since we warmed up on the first waterfall, why not jump off another?! Everyone seems a bit more relaxed on this one to have fun with it, smile for the camera, do a silly pose or whatever. Robin goes first. Laura goes last emerging from the water with the ugliest face as water has shot right up her nose. #BigNoseProblems.

Boulder stream scramble

Now that there are not too many risks around, it’s every man and woman for themselves as they scramble through the rocky stream. We really appreciate this time when you’re just taking yourself through the stream on your own little adventure. Although we obviously want a guide for safety purposes (and we sort of like or life), it feels more adventurous to use your own initiative and will to get yourself over rocks and down rapids.

We are now taking a loop and heading upstream, where climbing up huge boulders makes things a little easier and gets us warmed up much faster. (The tea breaks help with that too). Gareth points out a few edible mushrooms and leaves, should we ever get lost in the bush.

Waterfall to the face!

Up ahead is the highest waterfall yet. It looks climbable. Please say we are climbing it!

We are climbing it! Gareth rushes around a safe way to the top of the waterfall to get set up with ropes then throws a clip down for us to clip on one by one. Laura has always wanted to climb a waterfall like this. So many waterfalls in New Zealand look totally climbable, but you can’t really afford to make a mistake. Finally, with the safety of a harness, she finally gets to do it! (Meanwhile, Robin is sh*tting himself about the whole thing). Laura goes first with our Torpedo7 dry pack of camera equipment clipped to her back. She feels pretty badass right now. Water spraying right in her face as she climbs up… This is awesome!!!

Bish, bash, bosh, Robin is up – no time to mess around and get scared. We all make it up feeling refreshed from the waterfall getting all up in our face. What a way to end such an cool adventure!

Cooking in the spa pool

Before we know it we are back at the van, heating on, and we are all dreaming of hitting the Raglan Backpackers’ spa pool. We spend about an hour reminiscing about the Raglan Rocks trip while cooking in the pool. Gareth tells us more stories of his past crazy caving and rocks climbing missions, and what else Raglan has to offer for adrenaline-seekers. His passion for it mixed with our experience today makes us definitely want to come back and check out Raglan Rocks’ other trips.

Spa pool talk continues until we literally can’t stand the heat anymore. The fire is on in the common area, the puppy is out playing with its toys, so you can guess where we are spending the rest of the night…

If the rain ever stops, we’ll go kayaking to Pancake Rocks tomorrow. If not, we’ll find some dry weather activities. Maybe even stop caving/canyoning for the first time in days!

Laura and Robin

take a look around the secret stream!
take a look around the secret stream! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more

Hells-to-the-yeah! We’ll be getting some more Raglan guide articles up soon and updated. Until then, check out these articles:

We caught some mean photos on the Raglan Rocks trip, so check those out on Instagram @BackpackerGuide.NZ. We are also having an app-tastic time on HerePin, so give it a download to see what awesome things there are to do in Raglan.

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