Hi Everyone!

Thank you for taking the time to read our very first newsletter. Well, a lot has changed since Abel Tasman Canyons first started testing the waters (quite literally) 4 years ago, to now having a team of seven passionate guides, a couple of office staff and managers. We're taking huge steps forward with more gear, vehicles, staff and a fancy office and with each step we're getting more established and more professional. The feedback we're getting back from you is mind-blowing; on a regular basis we get TripAdvisor and Rankers reviews, emails and even phone calls about how much you enjoyed your experience with us, and we couldn't be happier! Those messages are feeding our passion to keep delivering the goods and to make it even better. So thanks again everyone! Let's keep playing in our beautiful natural playgrounds and I hope you all have a great Christmas!

Toine Houtenbos
A Day in the Life of a Canyoning Guide
What does a canyoning guide do? They guide people through canyons, obviously. But what does the job of a canyoning guide actually entail?

Working in the office of a canyoning company it doesn’t take long to realise how much work the guides have to do without even entering the canyon. All of the guides love their jobs, and without a doubt they all live and breathe the outdoors, however there are certain aspects of the career that as customers we may overlook. When the guides take our customers out on a canyoning trip, it involves a whole lot more than just keeping the customers safe…

The alarm goes off at 6am. I grab my breakfast and head to the shed. Inhale the powerful smell of half dried neoprene, letting it fill the nostrils as I find my pack and shovel in my own stuff. Still half asleep but it’s all happening like clockwork.

What do I need? Shoes, check. Helmet, check. First aid barrel, check. Wet suit, check. And still wet too, hmm. Time to sort out snacks. Must check to see if any of the customers are vegans, gluten free, or any nut allergies. It’s a good idea to pack extra just in case.

Let’s get the wetsuits sorted for the custies: grabbing one I slam it into the orange bag. Harnesses are put into a separate bag with the helmets. Trailer’s now hooked up and final check list is complete. It’s 7:20am. Time to do the morning pick up’s, and I must remember to pick up the lunches.
 It’s time to meet the customers. I’m fully awake now, raring to go. Lots of nervous faces stare back as they sign their lives away and type their pins into the EFTPOS machine. Let’s make a joke, lighten the mood. It’s so hard to think of something new every day. They’re all starting to relax. Seems like a lovely and enthusiastic bunch ready for an adventure. Perfect.

I’ve managed to fit everyone into a wetsuit and explained what goes where, and how, and huh? Is that the time already? It’s 9am. Time to get to the Aqua Taxi. Herding everyone along, I make it onto the boat just in time.

We’re in Anchorage now, at the start of the walk up to the canyon. Am I going too fast? Or too slow?
I should probably tell everyone a story about Abel Tasman in a minute. And check in that everyone’s okay with the walk. It won’t be long until we’re in the canyon and at one of my favourite parts of the day. Lunch time. Sitting everyone down on the rocks I hand out the food, reminding them to take in the relaxing surroundings of the canyon. Finally I too can tuck in, taking huge bites real fast. Chew, chew, and swallow. Simultaneously sorting out their gear. Chew, chew, and swallow. Getting my own still wet wetsuit on. Chew, chew, and swallow. Moving as quickly as I can to get my gear on and bag packed.

Stop. Check there is no lettuce in my teeth. Time to brief the group and lay out the wet suits so that everyone can get dressed. Take that group photo and hit the river. Off to the first abseil.
Teaching the customers to abseil is a science. I have to speak clearly and slowly, but not too slowly. They’re not stupid. “This is how you stop and this is how you go. Thumb on your bum… your turn.”
One by one they wander over the edge to the sound of cheers and gasps. Cheering one another on, it’s great. Making sure I watch for the other guide with me. Give him the eye and a little head nod, that’s the sign to set up the next feature – double trouble.  
Double trouble: a waterfall that we lower and drop each customer over. It’s rowdy here. The water pours straight over the edge and no one can see the bottom. Time to speak louder and pump everyone up.

“The other guide will meet you at the bottom, swim toward his voice!”

One by one they disappear and re-emerge from the water with eyes the size of dinner plates. They reach out for the other guide desperately. They’re pulled up onto the rock, out of the water, and we wait for the massive grin to spread across their face. Actually, this is one of my favourite parts of the day too.
They’ve all made it, proud of themselves and eager to experience more. The other guide cruises off with the group while I’m quickly stuffing the rope back into my canyon pack, then I run to catch up. It’s not hard to catch up, I’m used to hopping on rocks and I watch as the customers slowly take their time, careful of placing each foot on the slippery rocks below.

The 6 metre jump is in front of us. I position myself on the edge of the cliff, waiting to booty tap anyone who doesn’t jump out far enough. I count each person down, removing any possibility of hesitation: 3, 2, 1, jump! 3, 2, 1, jump! The guide below me focuses on capturing each jump on camera. Everyone jumps, easy.

There’s lots of rock hopping and bum shuffling to get through the canyon. Everyone is so uneasy on their feet, the mossy rock surfaces so foreign to a lot of the customers. As a guide I have an acute sense of hearing and know the sound of a sliding shoe instantly. If I hear a wobble or a slip my head whips around instantly to check if they’re okay. A bashful response always follows, letting me know that they are.
Over to the 8 metre jump, only the brave ones take on this one. Cue more booty taps where required and count downs galore. The brave are followed by the easily convinced, whilst the few left take turns on the smaller jump. Fears are overcome, successes are made. Everyone is happy.

Finally we emerge back out into the world. Time to share in some epic high fives, fist pumps and applause. An easy stroll back along the beach to the Aqua Taxi and next thing you know you’re home. Or not.

I amble back into the shed, an apt sense of Déjà vu in my head, and turn the radio up loud pretending I am not exhausted. It’s time to wash those suits! Dip, hang, dip, and hang. What? I smell wee… Eww. This customer has brought a whole new meaning to wet suit.

Politely I ask the office staff how their day was, hand over the goods – photos from the day on the memory card and a trip report. Home by 7.

Damn it, still gotta’ make dinner.

By Kirsty Porter & Lana Wood
Our guide Lee shows us, and his mum, why he loves his job so much.
The Time That I Went: Canyoning
If I had been asked about canyoning one month ago I wouldn’t have known what to say.

I knew it involved clambering over rocks and paddling through water, but beyond that I hadn’t a clue. So after gaining employment with Abel Tasman Canyons as the Office Manager I realised that not only would I have to do my homework, but that I would have to actually go canyoning myself.

I arrived at the Abel Tasman Canyon base at 7:30am with my swimming gear on, running shoes on my feet and sunglasses in my pocket. I had been told to prepare myself for the long day ahead, so I had, with a big breakfast and a full night’s sleep. I was genuinely excited, especially having seen tons of photos of beaming faces as they slid beneath waterfalls, but I had also been warned that it was going to be an intense day full of challenges.

After picking up the rest of the day’s customers and trying on all of our wetsuits (quite an experience in itself!), Lee and Mark, the two guides for the day’s trip, drove to the Aqua Taxi base where we were to get our taxi from Marahau to Anchorage. From Anchorage we would then walk for an hour and a half to the beginning of the canyon, Torrent River. As we hopped onto the Aqua Taxi and cruised along the coastline we were hypnotised by the mysterious turquoise of the sea, contrasting against the bright strips of golden sands. It wasn’t like a picture off of a postcard, it was better. We continued on, detouring across to Adele Island to watch as the Seals lay asleep. They were hard to spot amongst the rocks, but surely enough they started to move around and play, or fight, with one another, and it was amazing to see them so close within their natural habitat.

It wasn’t long after our detour that we reached Anchorage and began the walk up towards the canyon. It was a great opportunity to get to know the other people on the trip and it seemed the longer we walked the stronger the vibe amongst the group was getting. Although I have to admit, the walk was a little intense. With our wetsuits on our backs we had to hike uphill, and at times we had to cautiously find our way through tree trunks and rocks. I did slip over, typical, but I am a little uncoordinated when it comes to hiking, and trekking… or even walking really. But it can’t be underestimated as to how steep some sections were. We were all loving getting to explore the native bush, the heart of the Abel Tasman, and the guides were amazing at telling us stories about the history of the National Park.

Before we knew it we were at the canyon. We had been so distracted on the hike, with the images of the seals and the sea in the back of our heads, that we had almost forgotten the entire purpose of our day. The canyoning.

Which is just about when the nerves crept in.

The canyon stood vast and magnificent. Rocks decorated the centre and greenery lined the edges, standing away from the water’s edge. This was the entrance to our next adventure. We ate our lunch and fully immersed ourselves in our surroundings; I watched as the water cascaded over rocks, pooling in calm pockets below. But as we slid our bodies into our wetsuits my nerves were anything but calm.

We grouped together, put our helmets on and had a quick briefing as to what was to come over the next three hours. Then off we went. One by one we dropped into the water, and waited as we felt the water seep through our wet suits. It was cold. Cold enough to make the men squeal like the women (!), but it was also pretty refreshing after our long walk.
The guides eased us in gently with an abseil, and the group cheered one another on as we overcame our first set of nerves. We took it in turns to slowly step our way down the first rock face, familiarising ourselves with the ropes and the harnesses and learning how to safely ease ourselves into the water below. The vibe was great. Beforehand I had been worried that I was going to hold the group back, but everyone was in there as a team and it was amazing to feel like we were all working together.

It was only once we faced our first drop that I began to feel a little bit out of my comfort zone. Mark was going to ease us over the top of the waterfall on a rope, letting the water cascade over our heads, before releasing us into the water beneath us. It all looked great from above, and I laughed as the first couple of people went ahead. But then it was my turn. There was water everywhere: over my eyes, in my mouth, over my nose. I saw nothing as I plummeted into the below.

I kicked and pushed and tried to surface, but the power of the waterfall above wouldn’t let me out. I pushed forward, beginning to panic, searching for Lee’s face. Through blurry eyes I could just about see him, but he seemed so far away. I reached forward, feeling for air, and at last it came to me. I coughed.  as the water I had swallowed escaped from me, and at last I felt the relief from what I had just overcome. I hadn’t prepared myself for such intensity, for the lack of control and disorientation. It was exhilarating. I expected the challenges to worsen after that. But then I felt the adrenaline kick in and I was desperate to press on and to see what else the canyon had in store for me. Each obstacle had its own unique twist: a surprise drop, a sudden cliff, a hidden waterfall. It was incredible.
               The entire trip was incredible. In no other experience will I be able to challenge myself in so many different ways as I did when canyoning. The feel of the water surrounding me did overwhelm me, but I overcame that. The feeling of jumping off the edge of a jump did make me feel sick, but I overcame that too. And so when the Aqua Taxi dropped us back into Marahau an hour later I felt weary not from the activity, but from the incredible emotional roller coaster that canyoning had allowed me to go through.

By Kirsty Porter
Win a FREE trip to Torrent River!
Our canyons are situated in one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, the Abel Tasman National Park. But we know that the Abel Tasman is only one of many spectacular sights to see around this incredible country, so why not try and win yourself a free canyoning trip with Abel Tasman Canyons by sending us a snap of your favourite spot. It could be a picture of Mt Cook, Franz Josef, or the Tongariro Crossing - whatever it is, we want to see it! 
Email your images to: with the subject title: Competition Entry.  The deadline is Saturday the 31st December 2016, and the winner will be announced on Tuesday the 3rd January 2017. Best of luck!
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