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Routeburn Canyoning Epicness...

Posted by Dave Fahey: 22nd Feb 2018 @ 14:10:54

It's no secret that I'm a water boy, so naturally canyoning was going to be right up my alley. While I've done a little bit of canyoning in the past it has never been on an organised tour and never on this scale. And now that I’ve had time to sit back and reflect upon the experience I think there is only one word to truly sum it up – EPIC!

The trip starts with a 1-hour drive from Queenstown to the Routeburn via the iconic Glenorchy Road. As many times as I have driven the road to Glenorchy, I still found myself just gazing out the window fixated on the share scale of the mountains and the vast expanse of beautiful turquoise water that is Lake Wakatipu.

As we round Bennetts Bluff we can see a good bit of West Coast rain spilling over the main divide and infiltrating the Routeburn Valley. Usually when you’re on your way to an activity this would be considered a negative. Not today though. There aren’t many certainties is life, but getting wet while canyoning is one.

Upon arrival at the Routeburn shelter we begin to gear up with layer upon layer of black rubber, helmets, harnesses and wetsuits. Although we are in the midst of a heatwave the water in the canyon doesn’t see much sunlight so still feels relatively glacial. After numerous dunking’s I was rather pleased to be three layers deep in neoprene.

A short 30-minute walk up the Routeburn Valley through ancient, native beach forest lead us to the canyon start point. From here it was all action, satisfaction.

After a briefing from the guides on what to expect, safety and the basics of canyoning it was straight in & straight under. The next three hours was almost a blur of jumps, slides, abseils and water, water, water.

What I loved was the flow of the trip. Small group sizes mean that you don’t spend ages waiting for each person to complete an activity before moving on. A maximum group size of 12 allows for just enough time for you to take in your stunning surroundings and catch your breath before you’re into your next challenge.

The guides have a great ability to pass on all the necessary information to keep you safe and your stoke levels high, without boring you with detail and disrupting the flow of the day. Canyoning Queenstown also adopt a two-guide policy which is above and beyond what required by industry standard. This also helps keep the day moving as they leapfrog their way down the canyon and keep one step ahead of the group. It also allows plenty of time for extra rock jumps and slides while the other guide prepares for the next challenge.

I could also tell that the trip has been well designed to maximise every feature in the canyon, so that the jumps, slides and abseils just keep on coming. The guides are also great at challenging their guests without pushing people past a level where they are comfortable. They are also great at taking every opportunity to get you as wet as possible.

You can genuinely tell that the guides love what they do, they have all the typical bad tourism jokes, but everything is told and delivered with the enthusiasm that can't be faked. These guys genuinely love to canyon and share it with their guests. All I need to work out now is how I get a job doing what they do!

All in all, it’s great to be on an experience where you are truly in control of your own destiny. You’re the one that has to turn your brain off and throw yourself off a cliff. You hold the ropes when you abseil, clip on your own safety’s while scrambling around the rock, and you have to swim yourself to shore. This is definitely not one of those activities where you are strapped in/on and taken along for the ride.

Cheers Josh, Taylor and the whole team for a rad day! The most fun I’ve had in black rubber in public!

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