Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday Adventure: Sleeping God Canyon, New Zealand

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Years!  Before launching into this week's adventure, a reminder: today is the last day to participate in Teresa Frohock's little "Guess the Author's Gender" experiment!  All 10 writing samples are up - comment with your guess as to the author's gender, and you've got a chance to win a pile of free books.  But hurry, because comments close tonight at 9pm EST.  The Big Reveal will happen on Monday Jan 7.  (And hey, because I love my blog readers, I'll even give you a hint: one of the samples is mine. Can you figure out which one?)

This week's adventure continues the Hobbit-inspired theme of Spectacular New Zealand.  Last time, I shared pics from kayaking on Milford Sound on the South Island; this time, I'll jump to the North Island, and share pics from a canyoneering trip my husband and I did in Sleeping God Canyon.

Sleeping God Canyon, from the bottom.  
Sleeping God is a steep and dramatic canyon with lots of waterfalls, pools, and abseils (rappels).  It's about 2 hours from Auckland, over on the Coromandel Peninsula in the Kauaeranga Valley.  My husband and I were particularly excited to give NZ canyoneering (or "canyoning," as Aussies and New Zealanders call it) a try, since "wet" canyoneering involves a bit of a different skill set than the dry Utah canyons we usually descend.  Since we didn't want to haul all our canyoneering gear from the US to NZ (our baggage was heavy enough as it was, with all our backpacking equipment!), we signed up for a guided trip with CanyonZ. Our two guides, Neil and Bertrand, were great - they treated us as partners rather than sheep to be herded, and gladly shared their knowledge of tips and tricks for wet canyon descents.  Oh, and Neil in particular had  a wicked sense of humor - always a plus. The group was nice and small, too: only 4 paying clients.

Suiting up at the start of the trip.  We wore full-body wetsuits, harnesses, and helmets while descending the canyon.  The water is pretty freaking cold!
The trip starts with a brisk 40-minute hike up the Kauri trail to the head of the canyon.  Then you pick your way down along the river to the first waterfall, and the fun begins!

Setting up for the rappel of the first waterfall.  The views out over the valley are spectacular.
Woo hoo!  Nothing like rappelling next to (or sometimes IN) pounding water.
You have to step carefully, because the rock is insanely slick
The rock has all these interesting "stair-step" features
Rappelling down the second fall
Fraenzi demonstrates the faster way to get down. (She's doing a flip. Don't worry, she didn't land on her head.)
Rainbows abound in the canyon
So many beautiful waterfalls!
It's important to practice setting "guided rappels" when descending large waterfalls - you don't want to land directly in the water beneath the fall, as you can easily get sucked under and drown.
I had to do this rappel with my eyes closed, lest my contacts get washed straight out of my eyes.  Made for a bit of an extra challenge. 
Zipline descents are fun, too.
Our little gang at the end of the trip: Chris, Neil the Guide (would you trust your life to this man?), Andre, Fraenzi, me, and Robert.  


  1. Wow. Wow. Wow. Speechless beauty. It is a shame this is in NZ or else I'd be plotting a visit!

  2. And no, no clue who owns which sample. I know Myke is even offering a copy to the person who figures out which one is his...

    1. Maybe I should offer to earmark an ARC of the to-be-completed Labyrinth of Flame...though since completion is still, er, a while away, don't know if that'd be much of an incentive! (Also, I think mine's awfully easy to figure out...not so much from the prose, but from other things.)

      And yes, NZ is *gorgeous*. You must go there some day! It's not as expensive to fly there as people think, especially if you go in the off season.

  3. If I read a novel that started, "We wore full-body wetsuits, harnesses, and helmets," I would have no clue what the hell they were up to, but it couldn't be much more fun than canyoneering in NZ.