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A blog about wilderness canyoning in New Zealand

Waterfall Creek Canyon

Written by – Ellen Goudsmits (Participant – Nov ’23) – translated from Dutch

Hidden in the wilderness of Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand, the Waterfall Creek canyoning experience awaits usWilderness canyoning New Zealand on a grey Thursday morning. It is advertised as perhaps the most challenging thing we’ll do in New Zealand and Toine has warned us that we will get tired, dirty, and sweaty. As far as we’re concerned, those are some of the key ingredients for a great adventure, but the way he hammers home his warning sets expectations. Now he’s promised us something!

Check out the video made by Tim!

For more information, head to the Waterfall Creek page.

Everything about this experience is supposedly BIG. And this starts with the hike to the top of the canyon. Sometimes we followed a path, sometimes it’s Wilderness canyoning New Zealandmore of a track, and sometimes it’s not even that. We climb over fallen tree trunks that have settled at about waist height, making it tempting to duck underneath instead. But as I don’t feel like getting my hair stuck in the branches, over it is. The long grass is damp with fresh rain and moisture sucked from low hanging clouds, turning the muddy slopes slippery. But just the muddy shoes, didn’t get my pulse going. Interesting to navigate, are the mud pools that we walk through, across invisible planks. Following closely behind Danelle, I try my best to step into the exact spots her shoes vacate, yet theWilderness canyoning New Zealand murky water sloshing right over it erases her prints almost instantly. Hoping my foot will indeed find some solidity, I set my boot down, grateful for my neoprene socks. We get a few breaks along the way, munching on food that is as yummy as advertised, while we listen to some interesting facts about the forest we’re tracking through.

We’re passionate and proud to operate in the Abel Tasman National Park, check out one of the initiatives we’re part of: The Marahau Pledge.

It’s literally a breathtaking hike up. Tim and I always feel that a view is more beautiful if you have to work hard to get up there; if that experience translates to Waterfall Creek Canyon as well, we’ll be in for one hell of a ride!

What should you expect? Please check out our FAQ page.

When we reach the top of our canyon, the lush green forest is still shrouded in clouds, giving it a surreal, fantasy-esque vibe. Golden brown rocks, mossy carpets, incredibly clear pools, and no sounds but that of the rushing of water, cements the fact you are indeed far off the beaten path; the serenity is a direct contraction to the wilderness in which we find ourselves. Said water rushes down the canyon, forming countless waterfalls Wilderness canyoning New Zealandalong the way of this aptly named Waterfall Creek Canyon, making looking back as stunning as looking ahead. We’re not even in our wetsuits and already it’s beautiful.

Excitement starts to spike and even the slight drizzle can’t dampen our spirits anymore now. Since we have three guides today – Toine, Danelle, and Amelia we can get started as soon as we’re kitted up and completed the safety briefing.

Please meet our team, and find out what we do to keep you safe.

We don’t have to wait long for our first abseil – and it’s not a small one either. Starting a controlled descent, I reach the end of my rope and my rappel turns into a zipline. ‘Cannonball!’ Toine shouts at me, so I tuck into a little ball just before I hit the water.Wilderness canyoning New Zealand The splash Tim makes a little later is even bigger. It might have been a big hike up, but Waterfall Creek Canyon does not keep us waiting for the reward! This is true wilderness canyoning in New Zealand!

What follows are a series of smaller rapells, which we navigate at full speed thanks to our capable trio of guides, who seem intent on tag-teaming us down the canyon at full speed. We did say we like challenges and adventure… As it’s Wilderness canyoning New Zealandjust the two of us – the joy of pre-season canyoning – they take the time to teach us more about the different techniques and get us as involved as we want to be. We learn about meat anchors and bottom-belays, and scale walls as we’re hanging on to nothing more but our cow tails. We enjoyed some fun and games in waterholes and some longer, more challenging rappells.

Tim loves jumping so Toine had found him some good spots – nothing particularlyWilderness canyoning New Zealand high, but each one with a different technique to it. I sat back and enjoyed the show, and when it’s my turn, I showed off my epic ass-shuffle-skills and gently lowered myself into the pits of water.

And then there are the waterslides… The rain had made the canyon so wet and slippery, we could use half the canyon as a slide. On more than one occasion Toine has waited at the bottom of a rock face to catch us in case we build up too much speed on the ass-shuffle – and caught us. We’re already having so much fun, when suddenly the 18 meter waterslide is announced. This is what we came for. Just this slide would make the whole track uphill worth it, if the rest of the canyon hadn’t delivered that already. And here is my only regret of the day: we couldn’t go back up to do it again..

Wilderness canyoning New ZealandIt wasn’t even the last slide of the day. Right at the end of the canyon is another fun waterslide and if you manage to make your way up the slippery slope – confidently striding, or with an elegantly nimble walk, or about as elegant as a salmon trying to crawl back up a rock – you get to do it all over again! Wilderness canyoning New Zealand

Thanks to the clear water, clean enough to drink, we were still pretty clean when we slipped out of our wetsuits and prepared for the hike back. We were tired, we were wet, we had been sweaty, but dirty? In water this clean? Through a canyon this awesome and wet? No, we couldn’t really tick that box off.

But there was still hope for the way back. In an attempt to avoid the hill from the walk in, Toine let us via an estuary at relatively low tide. With that, hiking up my trouser legs until they were above knee height wasn’t enough. Our feet sinking away in smelly mud, kicking it up with every other step, Wilderness canyoning New Zealandand crossing back onto soft sand whilst being soaking wet from the rain – yea, we got dirty alright. Waterfall Creek canyon promises a lot, but boy, does it deliver!

We got back to the van cold, tired, and yes, dirty. Only to find Danelle and Amelia setting something up while we toweled off and slipped into dry clothes. A few surprises I’ve been specifcally asked not to say.. but Honestly, what more can one ask for? It doesn’t get better than a great, challenging and rewarding day out in a GORGEous canyon and amazing food throughout! BEST guides ever.Wilderness canyoning New Zealand

If you love waterslides,

If you love a canyon that’s just a bit different,

If you love fast-paced, beautiful, fun, and diverse canyoning,

If you love wilderness canyoning and New Zealand,

Waterfall Creek Canyon should be next on your list!

Wilderness canyoning New ZealandNeed more reasons to come canyoning in the Abel Tasman National Park?

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