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Rappel the Kaumira Canyon

Hunters Hills, New Zealand



3.7 miles

Elevation Gain

984.3 ft

Route Type



Added by Lucas Boland

Grab some mates and a rope and spend a day navigating one of New Zealand's amazing, explorable slot canyons. Tall, moss-covered walls, ice cold water, and a thrilling adventure!

The Kaumira Canyon is a deep, narrow gorge in the mid-Canterbury plains. Although not covering a very large distance, the array of technical features will take a while to navigate. We had a large party of nine people, and it took us nearly four hours to complete the canyon. There are two rappels, one of 20+ meters and one of 16+ meters, a jump of 10+ meters (if you're comfortable with that), and a couple small slides of less than 5 meters. The water is ice cold, so it is imperative that you bring polyprop base layers, a wetsuit, and a dry suit/top if you have one. To descend this canyon you need to have a crew with climbing experience, able to set up rappels and respond to any possible emergency situations. Professional guiding companies operate in this canyon, or you can do it with your own able crew. DISCLAIMER: In order to do this adventure you need to supplement this page with more detailed information on the features and flow rates. The Canyoning in New Zealand guidebook by Daniel Clearwater is a huge asset to have for this adventure, as it has detailed descriptions of all the features and specifications of this canyon, as well as 50+ others in the country. I've attached the photos, but it's a great pickup if you plan to explore more New Zealand canyons. 

Getting There:

From Christchurch, the drive to the canyon is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. You'll head south out of the city on State Highway 1, and take that 173km until you exit a bit past Temuka. Next you'll take SH 8 for a short while until you reach the town of Cave, at which point you turn left onto Cave-Pareora Road, and shortly thereafter turn right onto Black Line Road. After 19km or so this road will take you to a fork. Follow Mt. Nimrod Road to the right, a dirt road that will bring you to a grassy carpark at the end. Entering "Mt. Nimrod Road" into Google Maps will actually bring you to the correct spot. And the link to the DOC website in the packing list also has directions to this trailhead.

Canyon Information:

To access the canyon you first have to hike about 45 minutes along the Mt. Nimrod Track. The trail is steep and not super well maintained, so bringing shoes that are reasonable to hike in is a great idea (sneakers would be fine). Along the way there are really nice views of the Canterbury Plains and the foothills, and at one point you'll top out and begin to descend down to the canyon. Conveniently enough, the trail will run straight into an underwhelming stream - this is the beginning of the canyon.

After navigating downstream just a couple of minutes, you'll come upon the first feature: a jump (or rappel) of about 10 meters that requires holding on to a cable attached to the wall (in case of a slip) to access. You'll shimmy onto a small ledge that will be wet, but serves as a relatively solid jumping point. The second feature is the biggest, a rappel of over 20 meters. There is an anchor point on the wall, but a rope needs to be fixed for the descent. The beginning of this rappel is a little dicey, as the water going over the inverted, curved ledge pummels you and tries to sweep your feet out from beneath you. Following this feature, the third is an enjoyable slide of about 3 meters. Be careful when approaching the sitting ledge to maintain careful footing. The fourth feature is the second rappel, this one of 16+ meters. This one is not quite as difficult to navigate as the first. After this rappel is complete the rest of the canyon is small features and climbing over rocks in the stream bed to reach the bottom.

Again, for a full description with details you'll want to have a look at the aforementioned guidebook. It is imperative to be fully prepared going into this adventure. That includes monitoring flow rates and choosing the right time to go. It is your responsibility to have the know how to navigate a canyon of this nature.

Stay warm, and have fun!


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