Noémie Castaing is an independent ICOpro CA3 canyoneer from France. She joined some of the Abel Tasman Canyons guides on a canyoning trip down Blue Creek in the Kahurangi National Park. Typically, when we think canyoning we think waterfalls, pools, jumps, slides etc. However, Blue Creek is unique in the sense that there is no flowing water in normal conditions. Does that make it less of a canyon? We think NOT! Have a read of Noémie’s very well written blog.
“Blue Creek is the only dry canyon in New-Zealand and the first one I had been to. I always associated canyoning with jumps and slides in water, and abseiling waterfalls. First doubtful, and then excited about discovering something new, I decided to join Pete, Oscar, Jack and Adrien on a unique canyoning trip in the Kahurangi National Park.
After an hour and a half drive from Motueka through the Kahurangi National Park, we arrived at the car park and arranged our equipment.
The trip begins with a brisk 45-minute walk. First on a steep track, and then through the bush for the last part, the path is marked with colored tape.
We prepared the gear once at the top of the canyon, where I eventually decided not to wear any wetsuit because it was too hot. Putting on a harness over shorts and a long-sleeved shirt only was a weird feeling at first, but being lighter and freer to move around than when in thick neoprene wetsuits was such as bliss!
After a short down-climb to the “wadi” (though water goes beneath the ground and re-emerges further down the canyon through a spring), we arrived at the first obstacle. The descent begins with a 5-meter rappel which leads the canyoner in a chest-deep pool one must cross before continuing the rappel further. This pool was one of the two we found in this canyon.
The canyon progressively becomes more narrow and, as a result, totally inescapable due to the surrounding high cliffs. At some point, one may even extend their arms across and touch both walls simultaneously. Progressing through the canyon, the steep-sided geology keeps much of the sunlight out. The thin moss covering the walls of the canyon creates a strange and gloomy, yet pleasant atmosphere; and the temperature is ideal during a hot summer day.
The karst formation displays an amazing diversity of shapes and colors, not without reminding of marble. Even though there is no river in the canyon anymore, memories of how powerful water is and has been there remain, as the rocks were marked by thousands of years of erosion, and huge logs littering our path.
The descent continues, alternately rappeling, down-climbing big boulders and walking in the river bed. I am the only member of the group who doesn’t yet know how to rig and unrig, so the guys are relaying each other to go faster while Adrien is filming and taking pictures.
After about two hours, the canyon reopened, the temperature immediately rose, and we arrived at the spring where the river emerges again.
Blue Creek is one of the most beautiful canyons I have descended, and in particular because of the beauty of the nature and the geology surrounding it. Even if this experience has been completely different from the excursions I had the opportunity to do before, it fulfilled all my expectations: Adventure, exploration and rappelling in a beautiful environment.”
After this trip into Blue Creek Noémie went on to join one of the courses offer by our New Zealand Canyoning School to become an independent canyoner.