Next up on Andy (and Tom's) excellent adventure was canyoneering. The first time I ever experienced "canyoning" was on a trip many moons ago to Chamonix when I did a trip down a steep creek there, and since then all my canyoneering adventures have been in the Utah desert, where water typically exists as only a skanky, cold pothole deep in a sandstone canyon (with the exception - that I'll never admit to - of a quick slink down the Deer Creek narrows in the Grand Canyon). But given the proximity of the mountains and the sea in New Zealand it didn't surprise me that there was good canyoneering to be done down here, and sure enough there's (at least one) good adventure that lies in the hills of the humble but beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, which lies due east of Auckland across a 30 mile bay. Andy has a couple of "mates" who are making a go of guiding people down the "Sleeping God Canyon" and were keen to show us their goods, and I was keen to see how NZ canyoning compared to what we have in Utah. Additionally, I was curious to see for myself what the "no fear of litigation" has done to make New Zealand somewhat unique in the adventure world; the country has a reputation of taking absolute joeys down - and up - some fairly spicy stuff (as evidenced by the previous post; it's not many places that send raft clients over 20 foot waterfalls).
At first glance it looked promising:
|Note the log he's standing on. It's a Kairu, and back in the day the loggers would use big rain events to try - mostly unsuccessfully - to launch these logs down the canyon|
|It's best to clear the rocks....|
Here's another perspective of a massive Kairu log
Here's a view looking down into that rap:
Overall quite a fun day; these Kiwis know how to get after it, and indeed I was pretty impressed by the quality of the "adventure" associated with a guided trip. I'm not sure that this would fly in the litigious US of A. At the beginning of the day we all signed a liability release, and I noticed that a) it wasn't very long, and b) it said something to the effect of "as a participant you should know that there is a history of NO successful lawsuits being brought against outfitters for guided-activity accidents in New Zealand" Good.
It was really interesting doing a guided trip after many years of not being guided on anything and doing an activity that I was pretty familiar with and in fact have kinda "guided" folks doing myself. Russ and Ryan were pros and I learned a lot from them, both about gear/rigging (they set up a couple of zip lines, had different anchoring techniques than I'm familiar with) and about how they approached the activity and their clients to make it both adventurous yet safe (they made a big deal out of the practice rappels, but then - after looking the clients in the eye to confirm that they indeed "got it", sent them off on rappels, and then at the end - while safely attached to a fixed zip line - purposely shortened the rappel rope so that the hapless Londoner rapped off the "end" of his rope! Made for a good thrill....)
Next up was an adventure that Andy has long had in his sights: a sea kayak loop around the head of the Coromandel. Here is the loop (in blue):
|Andy about to find out.|
|This was closer in, when I finally felt comfortable to take my hands off the paddle....|
|We went out to those islands because it seemed like they were "on the way", but we realised that the ocean view can be a bit deceptive......|
|Andy's not so sure....|
That met with approval from Beefcake Boy:
|The road to this house alone is impressive, much less the amount of glass that was hauled along it for this monument to someone's ego|
And ended up in a deserted coastal resort community. Things pick up on the vacation front around Christmas, apparently), but when we pulled in hoping to hitch a ride back to our car in the evening there were literally no human beings to be seen, despite hundreds of nice homes. Reminds me of Deer Valley in the fall! But that just meant one more nice beach camp:
The Coromandel is a great place. Not sure how I'm going to fit all of New Zealand in over just a month if I keep finding awesome little nuggets like it all over the place.....