Our Committee Members

The NZ Canyoning Association is a non-profit, incorporated society run by volunteers.  Membership is free and is open to anyone who abides by the club rules and supports the mission of the club.

The Association is lead by a committee, aiming to represent the strategic objectives of the club, as well as represent the main canyoning areas in New Zealand.  To get in touch with the committee, contact NZCanyoningAssociation@gmail.com with your email.

The Area rep’s job is to represent the interests of the local canyoners within the NZ Canyoning association. Also, to organise local activities and events from time to time. If you have ideas for the NZ Canyoning Association in your region, contact your regional representative through NZCanyoningAssociation@gmail.com


President / Community Officer: Dan Clearwater

Dan ClearwaterDan has canyoned for 12 years in 9 different countries, but he most enjoys exploring for new canyons right here in New Zealand. He was a member of the NZ Canyon Team expedition in early 2015 and has done over 40 first descents here.  He lives in Wanaka and recently published the first guidebook to Canyoning in New Zealand as well as being a contributing author to the first Canyoning Technical Manual for New Zealand Conditions.  With help from many, Dan established the NZ Canyoning Association in the spring of 2015, and organised the first NZ Canyoning Festival in early 2016. He spent two seasons as a canyoning guide and general manager of Deep Canyon guiding in Wanaka.

The president’s role is overall leadership of the committee and chairperson for club meetings.  The community officer’s role is to achieve the outcomes of the community strategic objectives.

Treasurer/Secretary:  Leesa Fraser

Wentworth River (30)

The Treasurer/Secretary’s role is to manage the membership and funds of the club.

  • Complete annual financial statements for the club
  • Set up electronic payments for approval by one of the other two signatories
  • Take minutes for the e-AGM
  • Upload the minutes and annual return to the companies and societies office





Advocacy Coordinator/ Aspiring Rep: Annette Philipps

NZCA mugshot Annette

With multiple seasons of canyon guiding and canyon exploration in New Zealand which started in 2005, Annette travelled to Europe to further her canyoning education; as at time there were no canyon specific qualifications available in New Zealand. She studied with the Commission International de Canyon, to gain the top level canyon guide qualification and returned to New Zealand to continue guiding and was then also involved in the development of the NZOIA canyon qualifications, and was appointed as an assessor. Even with the abundance of outdoor recreation already available in New Zealand, canyoning remains Annette’s number one favourite. This gives her high motivation to help the growth of canyoning in this country and encouraging New Zealander’s to also embrace it and be part of the sport at all levels. Annette was recently part of a four person team that completed the first descent of Gloomy Gorge in New Zealand, which has attracted the attention of the international media.

The Advocacy Coordinator’s role is to achieve the outcomes of the advocacy strategic objectives.

Technical Standards Officer: Shanan Fraser

Shanana Exec Profile photoShanan has a long history working and playing in New Zealand’s outdoors having previously spent much of his time caving, climbing and kayaking until one day he saw the light, converted to canyoning and has been hooked ever since! Shanan holds a Diploma in Outdoor Recreation Leadership, NZOIA Rock 1 and Canyon 1 and Juggles a full time job as a firefighter to work as a Canyon Guide and Contract Outdoors Instructor and is also an active member of CaveSAR. He lives with His wife Leesa and son Liam in Auckland.

The role of the Technical Standards Officer is achieve the outcomes of the Technical standards strategic objectives.

The current project is to develop a canyon bolting guideline that is accepted as best practise by all stake holders.  Contact Shanan through NZCanyoningAssociation@gmail.com if you have opinions or advice to offer.

Upper North Island Reps: Russ Hodgson


Russ has always had a passion for New Zealand’s great outdoors and a desire to have others share that passion with him. The chance to share this with people came in 1999 when an opportunity arose to train further and gain some quality skills in vertical rope rescue, height safety, and risk management. Russ ‘the muss’ showed an excellent aptitude for working with people at heights which led to him becoming the Training Manager for the  leading New Zealand adventure caving company in Waitomo. Russell has guided and instructed people in height safety systems in New Zealand and all over the world. He also teaches outdoor first aid, rope rescue, and adventure guiding amongst a raft of other activities.  Russ holds NZOIA Canyon 2 and is also a NZOIA Canyon assessor.

Upper North Island Reps: Oli Polson


Lower North Island Rep: Vacant


Top of the South Island Rep: Richard Bramley

VASSoconstrictor (4)Richard is a relatively recent convert to canyoning after first trying out the sport in 2010, but has since canyoned in Spain, France, Greece, Australia, and New Zealand. He is a part-time canyoning guide for Abel Tasman Canyons and is passionate about promoting the sport in New Zealand. Richard has a very strong caving background, which has much crossover to the sport of canyoning. He is currently president of the Nelson Speleological Group and has been an integral member of many alpine caving expeditions, including in Austria, Greece, Kosovo, and New Zealand, including some caves that have a worldwide reputation for technical difficulty and general misery! He was recently part of the team that made the connection between Nettlebed and Stormy Pot caves in New Zealand, resulting in one of the deepest caves in the Southern Hemisphere. He is an active member of LandSAR and CaveSAR in the Nelson region. Richard works as a management consultant by day, so will contribute his leadership and organisational skills to the NZCA. He has organised a number of different adventure racing and caving expeditions in the past. Richard also brings a diverse range of outdoor experience to bear in canyoning, including adventure racing (including Godzone 2014, Patagonian Expedition Race 2012), whitewater kayaking, and climbing.

Westland Rep: Justin Venable

Ore JVJustin is a passionate expedition whitewater kayaker, having explored over 100 first descents in thirty seven countries on six continents, several of which were solo missions. He also has multiple first descents credited in NZ including the steepest kilometre of kayaking in the southern hemisphere – Windhover gorge of the Waitaha river in 2013. During his paddling career, Justin has crossed over to the sport of canyoning. He has subsequently explored canyons in NZ, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, USA, Canada, Nepal, Madagascar, Reunion Island, Corsica, and Norway. Justin is also an emergency medicine doctor and rural hospital medicine specialist. He has been team physician for multiple mountaineering and whitewater expeditions and is a consultant in wilderness and expedition medicine. He has a love of teaching and knowledge sharing, and an interest in improving and upskilling the level of prehospital medical care by outdoor adventurers and guides in all disciplines, so contact him if you want to collaborate on a project

Canterbury Rep: Grant Prattley

Mather Creek 40 Grant is the founder of Over the Edge Rescue, which develops custom publications, undertakes safety consulting and delivers training courses. His past experiences include ; leading the rescue team at Aoraki / Mt Cook; leading the rescue programe for SARINZ and managing/guiding at Big Rock Canyons in Canterbury. Grant is an NZOIA Canyon 2 holder.

General committee member: Toine Houtenbos

Toine sAfter experimenting with most outdoor pursuits, Toine created a passion for canyoning which he has pursued seriously since 2004. He worked as a canyoning guide in Europe and South Africa before making the move to New Zealand. Blown away by the amount of unexplored, potentially high quality canyons he quickly teamed up with other recreational canyoners (including Daniel Clearwater, Annette Phillips, and Richard Bramley) to hunt for new canyons. In the meantime he built on his professional canyoning resume by being involved in the development of the Canyon 1 and Canyon 2 qualification for NZOIA and was identified as one of four assessors in New Zealand. In 2010 he travelled to Japan to train with the Commission International de Canyon. He wrote the Code of Practice for Recreational Canyoning in New Zealand and more recently was involved in the development of the Activity Safety Guidelines for commercial canyoning in accordance with the new Adventure Activity Regulations. In 2012 he founded Abel Tasman Canyons, a commercial canyoning operation in the top of the South. Toine has done over 800 canyon trips in about 105 different canyons in France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand, of which 38 are first descents.

General committee members do not have any specific responsibilities, but offer advice to the rest of the commitee as well as helping with specific projects when needed.

General committee member: Pete Smith

General committee members do not have any specific responsibilities, but offer advice to the rest of the commitee as well as helping with specific projects when needed.

General committee member: Lee Den Haan


I have been a canyoning guide for 5 and a half years. I have guide canyons in New Zealand, Japan, and Nepal. I am based out of Motueka, where I am the operations manager for Abel Tasman Canyons and a senior instructor for the New Zealand canyoning school. I have been involved in  few first descents and have been canyoning in various parts of New Zealand but would very much like to further my involvement within the canyoning community. I Currently hold NZOIA Canyon 2 and am PHEC qualified.

I’m looking forward to helping grow the community, specifically in training and education at the grass roots level to inspire and mentor people new and keen to give the pursuit a go. Would also like to be involved with any future expeditions which will benefit the public profile of Canyoning.