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New Zealand (Day 3): Canyoning in Wanaka

Summary: The teens' favorite day in New Zealand, was our day canyoning in Wanaka. Located in Mt. Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canyoning New Zealand safely took us through our very first canyoning experience. The day started with a drive from Queenstown out to the Park, followed by gear dispersal, a short hike, then a fun, wet adventure down the canyon.

Canyoning Photos. Since we didn't bring camera equipment that could withstand this type of wet adventure, everything we have is from the Canyoning company and their little water proof pocket camera. I say this because I don't think our That's How We Travel photographer (the Dad) wants to take ownership of these photos, ha ha.


Getting there. Canyoning New Zealand picked us up from Central Queenstown, bright and early. Shuttles to the canyoning site are also available from Wanaka. From Queenstown, it takes about two hours to reach the Park, including the short stop at a coffee shop along the way.


What to bring. You will need a towel, bathing suit, dry change of clothes, water, and possibly a couple snacks if you need a bit more than the box lunch provided for this 7-8 hour day. We also visited at the beginning of their summer, so the weather was quite mild. In the canyon the wet suits keep you warm, but you may need extra dry layers for later.

Equipment dispersal and hike. There's nothing easy about getting a snug wetsuit on. After hopping, tugging, jumping, grunting, and a whole lot of laughing, we were eventually ready to hit the trails to the canyon. Next we took a a brief hike up the canyon, with the light equipment in tow. Near the point of entry, our guide gave us a lesson on using the rappelling equipment all of which was easy to understand for first-time canyoners like us.


Canyoning. So what is Canyoning anyway? Canyoning involves navigating a canyon where water is flowing, typically in abundance. Rappelling equipment is used to traverse steep sections, while a good old-fashioned bum slide is used to scootch, wade, crawl, and step your way down the more gradual drops. For our adventure, we also were able to jump into deep pools of water (if we wanted).

It's fun and not too scary! I had some reservations since I'm not too excited about heights. Surprisingly though, when actually put to the test, it wasn't so bad. The folks at Canyoning New Zealand did a great job explaining the process each time, with a mix of well-timed encouragement and good-natured teasing ("come on now, don't let your kid beat you!).

Another adventure day in the books. What we've learned over the years is that most of our favorite and memorable days involve getting out of our comfort zone in some way. Dangling over a water fall with Canyoning New Zealand definitely hit this mark. It checked all the boxes of (1) a jointly fun family activity, (2) adventurous - but safe! and (3) something new a different that was unique to the area we visited. This is definitely a "must do."


Air BnB. We kind of hit the jackpot with the an Air BnB we found for this trip. The view was incredible. So much so that we never went out to eat for dinner, and kept coming back "home" to sit and enjoy our view. It is located about 10 minutes from Central Queenstown, in a cute lakefront neighborhood. We also were super lucky with the pricing as it was a brand-new listing at the time. It's now more than what we would pay today, but if that's less of a concern, we'd highly recommend this listing. (photos below are from the evening after Canyoning).


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