A Taste of Canyoning in the Coromandel
When people describe the Coromandel in New Zealand, they probably talk about the beautiful beaches and relaxing lifestyle. But, as we find out today, there is an epic side to the Coromandel Peninsula. One that involves canyoning.
This is an activity we are most stoked about for our first week on the road. The plan is to go with the guys from CanyoNZ deep into the Kauaeranga Valley. The Sleeping God Canyon (just the name gives you an idea of how otherworldly this place is) has been well equipped by the CanyoNZ crew for abseiling down waterfalls, ziplining over forest, and jumping into icy cold rivers.
Please don’t be cancelled!
If you have being keeping up with our new adventure, you will have seen that it has got off to a wet start. The rain has been on and off over the past few days, but when it rains it pours! The morning of our scheduled canyoning trip, the rain is pounding the top of our campervan. “Please don’t let it be cancelled…”
As we find out later, the guys at CanyoNZ were already in the canyon checking the water level at 4am making sure it is safe for us. Turns out we are good to go!
Wayne and T, CanyoNZ’s guides, pick us and our canyoning crew (a German couple and three American friends) from Thames and we are on our way down the Kauaeranga Valley Road. This is a pretty adventurous road in itself. Pot hole central! But the views of rugged peaks while we followed a river continued to get us pumped!
River rapid crossing
We suit up with sexy thermals for the initial 45-minute hike and share the wetsuits, harnesses and food between packs. Somehow, Laura, the smallest one of the group, ends up taking gear for three people in her pack. That’s because she is freakin’ hardcore!
Let the hike begin! First, we need to do a river crossing to get to the hiking track. Our guide, T, takes a look at the river and says: “The water’s crankin’! We usually have stepping stones to get across!”
There’s no stepping stones to be seen, just pure rapids. But we’re not winey little bitches. Let’s cross this thing! There is one waist-deep section where we need to hold hands or we will lose our balance and left to the river demons to decide our fate. (Laura was then thankful she had her heavy pack to keep her weighted!)
We succeed in crossing the river, but T seems concerned that the water level has “cranked” right up since this morning.
Wayne catches us up, practically pounding across the river like he was the master of it. (These Maori guys, man). Both guides assess the situation and decide that due to the unexpected surge of water passing through, it was far too dangerous to do the canyoning today. They say they will give everyone a full refund, yet they are still happy to take us up to the canyon entrance to show us the views and scramble through a few of the initial rapids. Honestly, that is beyond kind of them to do that for us all. We realise later, just how much awesome stuff they are going to do for us that day.
Eating New Zealand plants
Time to tackle the hike. Ascending higher and higher, the Billy Goat Track is pretty adventurous with a few climbs even up an old railway left from a forestry industry long ago. Every new opening in the trees unveils a wondrous view. Speaking of trees and vegetation, T and Wayne show us a plant with medicinal value, basically to help you stop having diarrhoea. Robin jumped at the chance to eat it. (He possibly has problems…) But it was NOT GOOD. He spat it out instantly, leaving him with a God-awful taste that he is afraid will never leave his memory!
Moving away from Robin’s fails and onto practical things, the canyoning gear we have is strangely comfortable for the hike, and because we have a few of our own cameras to take up with us, we take our own Torpedo7 dry pack (we knew it would come in handy), which was especially useful for this next bit: the scramble down the waterfall.
We toss our packs to the side and make our way to the edge of the canyon. More and more rapids lie ahead. One by one, we make our way down the waterfall, the sound of gushing water blasting in our ears from all sides. Finally, we reach the edge of the canyon for a photo op at the waterfall’s edge and all scream into the canyon at the top of our lungs when taking the photo. We’re loving life right here.
We balance our way back off the waterfall, aaaand Robin falls in the water. Classic, Robin. However, he was pretty pleased that he put the camera back in the dry pack before making his way back… Laura just points and laughs at the whole incident. We mean, what can you do? At least he didn’t fall off the waterfall.
T’s sandwiches are the bomb
Before we descend down the same way, we have some lunch on the riverside (quite a common theme in our lives recently). T had made some MEAN sandwiches, sweets and tea for us all. English Laura almost shamelessly jumps on T when she offers the tea.
On the way back down we have a good chat with Wayne and T, who have been awesome this whole trip, about local Moari legends. We definitely want to return to do the whole canyoning adventure with them.
On to our next destination…
Back in Thames, we hang out with two of the people on our tour, Jess and Matt from the US, exchanging videos and general road trip stories. We say: “See ya later,” and head onto our next destination, Coromandel Town.
The drive along the Pacific Coast Highway between Thames and Coromandel Town is absolutely stunning, albeit windy as f*ck so Robin was stressing navigating the beasty campervan. We made sure to stop a couple of times on the beaches along the way to watch the sun go down.
We finally reach our stay for the next few nights, Coromandel TOP 10 Holiday Park. It’s too late to get up to much now, other than have a beer on our cabin decking, but we’ll hit you up with more Coromandel Town antics tomorrow.
Extreme selfie on the canyon edge
Extreme selfie on the canyon edge
Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Extreme selfie on the canyon edge Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
For more adrenalin activities in New Zealand, feast your eyes on these:
- 6 Impressive Canyoning Locations in New Zealand
- Adrenalin Activities in New Zealand
- Top 8 Water Sports Activities to do in New Zealand
See you in Coromandel Town tomorrow!