Big H meets the Big Waterfall Creek – Epic canyoning in New Zealand
“You keen to jump on tomorrow’s Waterfall Creek trip?” I knew it was only a matter of time before I had the opportunity to take on one of the most epic canyoning trips in New Zealand.
Tomorrow was going to be the day. Super excited, a tad nervous.
Part of my role at Abel Tasman Canyons is the screening of customers for our canyoning trips, and in particular Waterfall Creek. Up until experiencing Waterfall Creek myself, I had found this a bit tricky and awkward. Ok I knew there was a rather big slide, I’d watched the promo video (check it out!) with the guy sitting at the top and then watching him drop – my stomach dropped with him. I like to think I’m a pretty active, outdoorsy person who keeps reasonably fit. So, what was it about Waterfall Creek that meant we had to be so careful as to who we take in there? Looks like I was about to find out!
After a bright and early start, meeting our guides for the day, Oscar & Juri, at the base, we were loaded up and off to collect the four customers who were joining us for the day.
Climbing up and over the Takaka Hill, glimpsing the sun rising as we made our way. We were headed to Awaroa, located at the northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park. As we passed through Wainui Bay, Oscar began to fill us in on a bit of the history of the area and the land that we would be traipsing through later on that day.
At the Awaroa car park we sorted the gear and were ready to go. Juri at the front setting a cracking pace, reminding me of how short my legs are. The walk to the top of the canyon takes about 2.5 hours. I had been warned that this walk was tough, and to expect mud, prickles, clambering up slips, scrambling over fallen trees and lots of sweat. Rough and remote I think were the words I’d heard. Yeah well it delivered. Tick.
We stopped halfway up for a break under the shade of the incredible native bush, the cicadas were insane! Looking like a damp beetroot and panting, I found out that I had unknowingly volunteered to carry a rope.
We found ourselves at the top and tucking into our huge lunch which I battled through, but did as I was told – apparently, I was going to need all the energy I could get to survive the day without a meltdown. Wetsuits on, and safety briefing done, it was now time to get well and truly into it. We were all keen and eager to see what was waiting just around the corner.
No mucking around, we were straight into the thick of it, with our first of many wicked waterfall abseils for the day. There were thumbs ups, shakas, and massive grins all round!
As we scrambled and clambered up, down, over, under, and bridged between Waterfall Creek’s giant granite boulders, I found myself thanking my mum again for my short legs. I definitely noticed how a bunch of strangers in an environment like that, become a tight-knit team very quickly! Let’s be honest, I needed all the help I could get and luckily there were plenty of shoulders and knees to borrow.
I will leave the nitty-gritty details and secrets of Waterfall Creek to all you adrenaline seeking adventurers to discover yourself, or reminisce on if you have already ticked this one off your list.
But what I will say is that from start to finish, there was an epic, adrenaline soaring feature around every corner. Remembering to look around where possible to appreciate how beautiful the environment is that very few get to experience. And as we continued to abseil, slide, zipline and jump our way through the stunning canyon I knew that THE SLIDE was waiting for me.
As we sat on the rocks at the top of the 18m slide, Oscar asked “Ok so who wants to slide it and who wants to abseil it?”. Well there really was only one option for me if I wanted to show my face around the office again. “I’m sliding!”
Perched at the top, I watched the two before me go and could hear Juri celebrating as they emerged from the pool at the bottom. My turn! “Are you nervous?” asks Oscar. “Long as I do what you say I’ll be fine, right?”. He lined me up and asked me if I was ready to go. Following his instructions, I locked my eyes on the trees on the hills in front. Next thing I knew I was emerging from the pool at the bottom to Juri’s approving wahoos. Stoked! With a fist to my helmet, I let Juri know that I was ok. Just as I was looking back up at the slide thinking that was insane, Oscar runs and jumps it (watch the video!). All in a day’s work.
Everything in Waterfall Creek is bigger when comparing it to the features of our popular, more accessible and awesomely fun Torrent River trip. The hike up is tougher. The rocks are bigger, so the scrambling and the clambering down is trickier. The abseils higher, the slides longer and the ziplines faster. Even the rocks are slipperier!
This epic canyoning adventure in New Zealand is definitely physically demanding so needless to say the trip back in the van was relatively quiet, with the five of us in the back reflecting on the amazing day we’d had, while fighting the sleepy eyes.
After a marathon game of I spy with my little eye (or Juri’s big eye) to get us over the Takaka Hill, we were back in Motueka saying our goodbyes.
Want to learn more about this trip? Check out the trip details here.
Want to learn how to go canyoning by yourself? Check out the New Zealand Canyoning School