Customers Review from Trip Advisor
Torrent River : Let’s qualify this review first.
We did this on the first day of the 2017/18 season, in 10degC water, on a 12degC day, cloudy and raining for the second half. With a 13yo in tow and with neither of us having any experience. The logistics were themselves major just getting there.
“This is NOT your average tourist attraction. This is not even an extreme activity. This is just pure madness, bottled and sold by professionals.”
Remember those youthful times at the river or the swimming hole with your mates when you did stupid things? Remember how it invariably just ended real bad for you or a mate, or you soon discovered how dangerous it really was and stopped?
Imagine what it would be like to do those cool things… but without all that risk. To be able to play with ropes, swings and fast flowing water but not have to think about how it should actually be done. To be able to run and jump off a rock without a care in the world as to what lay below you, or under that water.
You’re imagining Abel Tasman Canyons. A magical place where you just do crazy stuff and someone else stands there and worries themselves to death instead of you.
But there’s no need to worry, because everything has been engineered to the finest precision by seasoned professionals beforehand. All the risks have been controlled. You just do as your told and the magic happens.
Right from the start this is TRUE CANYONING. Once the water taxi dumps you at Anchorage Beach, it’s just you, your group and two guides pitted against the wilderness. Everything that goes up the mountain goes up in our hands or strapped to our backs. Then it all comes back down the canyon again in the water, over rocks and huge waterfalls.
There’s no four wheel drive waiting to whisk your stuff up the hill for you and hand you lunch and a coffee at the top. Lunch travels with us in a small sealed container. There are a few stowage points for critical equipment and of course strategically pre installed anchor points but apart from that, nothing.
There’s no toilets either so be prepared to go bush style on this one too. I’ll do no more than mention the old saying.. “there’s two kinds of wetsuit wearers.. those that pee in their wetsuit and those that lie about it”. I’ll leave the rest to you. When given the opportunity for the bush, take it.
The gear is absolute top quality. You begin by trying on your suits in the yard at Marahau, just to make sure their as tight as hell. You’re going to need that, especially if (like us) you find yourself canyoning during the colder months.
You remain in your normal clothes on the water taxi until landing at Anchorage where you might have to have your shoes off to land the beach. Then there’s a last chance to use “lockable” toilets before you say goodbye to anything you’re not willing to carry up the mountain or that won’t fit into the water tight bag that sits in one of the packs on the back of your guide.
Even when it’s very cold, you’ll find just the (supplied) thermal shirt and a pair of swimming trunks more than enough once you get climbing up the tracks to the top, especially considering you’ll have your wetsuit, helmet, gloves and harness strapped across your shoulder as well. A few stops along the way up have complimentary juice, plenty of commentary, stories and laughs.
A recommendation.. make the swimming trunks the tight type (compression shorts work well). There’s nothing worse than the restriction of having bulky shorts squeezed inside a tight wetsuit.
About 90 minutes later, you’re on the rocks chewing down on a roast beef and salad sub for lunch, with plenty of fresh, clean drinking water courtesy the river cascading all around you while the guides get things set up.
Then it’s in to the suits again and in to the water. Head under please. After a short while your body forgets about the cold. The water that just ran in to your suit invariably warms up and you begin to get used to the buoyancy of the full suits in the water.
Your hands and feet may be icicles for a while and the shivers might start up. But in no time the guides will have you in some exercises that’ll warm those up and before long, you just forget about it. There’s other stuff to occupy your mind.
Jumps, Abseils, Slides, Ziplines. All that cool stuff awaits. You look and think “there’s absolutely no way I’m doing that”. But within minutes it’s done and you’re off to the next magical thing.
Torrent River is not like other NZ extreme attractions like bungy or ledge swings that are over in minutes. You get a full three and a half hours of adrenalin rush after rush. You begin to feel superhuman.. like a suited creature that could take on anything. Dangerous.
Dangerous if it weren’t for the two Abel Tasman guides, working in perfect harmony together to keep you safe. All the way down.
At the bottom it’s back to trekking, this time still wet. We don’t take the 1.5 hour trek via the marked path but instead cut across several short cuts over the sands and the bay, slicing that time to 30 minutes at the expense of remaining wet.
Eventually we’re back to Anchorage Beach where I’ll admit, a hot shower would be a great addition to the facilities as those suits come off and you finally get dry for the water taxi ride home.
Torrent River certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. You need a good level of fitness and (especially) good water skills. The ability to be submerged in water and right yourself is an absolute minimum. There may be times when you end up short of air or confused under there.
Despite what we’ve said here, in the end your own safety is up to you. If you go and do things you’re not confident in doing, you’re going to become a casualty. This is still exceedingly high risk stuff, regardless of who is watching or how much they’ve engineered it for dummies. First aid is carried at all times, as is effective radio communications in case of an emergency.
In many cases you’ll be given multiple options for descending an obstacle. You can choose which one you feel confident to try. In the end, they’re equipped to lower you down any drop using ropes and with no further assistance if required. They got you in, the can certainly get you out again.
Torrent River is worth absolutely every cent. In fact, in many places you’d struggle to even hire the equipment alone for this price – let alone have it bought in and handled by experts along the way before taking it back, professionally cleaning it and having it ready for the next tour.
If you are physically able and you can only choose one “top tier” action activity to do while in New Zealand, Torrent River should be it.
Leave the rest for the tourists.
Our hosts were Mitch and Toine.