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/Aspiring Rep: 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 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:  Warren Fitzgerald

Warren Fitzgerald NZCA profileWarren has been playing in the outdoors for most of his life. Born and raised in Waitomo, he got into canyoning through a background of cave guiding . Since discovering the sport in 2006, he has guided and explored canyons throughout Europe and and back home in NZ.

After attending the 2018 Canyoning Festival, Warren has found himself an avid supporter of the NZ Canyoning Association’s mission and is keen to see the responsible growth of the sport here in New Zealand.

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: Jacinda Boully

Jacinda Boully

Originally from Australia, Jacinda is currently based in South Canterbury.

Her background is in Water Resource Engineering and Hydrology which fuels her passion for protection of catchments across the globe for environmental health and recreation. It also gives her a great understanding of the legislation around water and conservation.

Jacinda has canyoned around Australia and the South Island, and also loves to climb, trail run, orienteer and Kayak.

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 2 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.

Shanan was a lead author of the NZCA Bolting Code of Practice, a first for canyoning in NZ.

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

Oli Polson

Oli discovered canyoning in 2006 while working as a cave guide in Waitomo; this sparked a love for the sport that has remained ever since. Following a couple of seasons guiding in Europe, Oli moved back to NZ and began exploring at any opportunity. One of the founding members of the NZ Canyoning Association and now based in Te Aroha, Oli is passionate about exploring the North Island for quality canyons.

Lower North Island Rep: 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.

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.

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.

Westland Rep: Vacant
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

Pete Smith

Pete is a recreational caver and canyoner, and spends many weekends either with his caving club or canyonning with his good mates. An active member of the Auckland Speleo Group + also on the clubs committee, he has travelled all over NZ many times, caving and canyoning.

Pete started selling canyoning gear over 9 years ago, because he couldn’t find a bag that drained quickly enough. He made the first prototype, and the rest followed. Now he spends his time making new products, prototypes and importing quality goodies from all over the world for the sports he loves.

Pete spent many years climbing, predominantly in the UK and Europe, prior to taking up canyoning. With a real interest in caving + canyoning, the friends, adventure and discovery are the things that keep his interest. He has pioneered many first descents with close buddies around his local area + in the Coromandel etc.

Currently interested in building a good community of skilled mates and having all the fun he can squeeze into life.

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:  Andy White.

Andy whiteI’ve been actively encouraging friends and colleagues into the sport, and supported the Canterbury Sections first meet in 2017, and am keen to develop the community side of canyoning within Christchurch to pull together like minded adventurers for some social events.

I’m equally passionate about introducing people to canyoning in a responsible manner, encouraging best practice, environmental stewardship and appreciation of the unique geology and ecology of our native bush; and am committed to ensuring access is maintained to existing canyons where landowner concerns over safety and liability may lead to excessive risk mitigation measures in the future. My expertise in safety leadership, safety legislation, sociology and psychology has already provided the association with credible expertise in the development of the SMP for both the 2016 and 2018 festivals; and is something I’m keen to continue with, as well as supporting the Technical Officer in advocating for safe canyoning practices and education programmes for newbies.

General committee member: Chris Whitehouse

Chris Whitehouse ProfileI have been canyoning on and off since 2008, mostly recreational with some commercial guiding thrown in for good measure! I guess I am best known as a caver but I was originally a rock climber that got drawn into caving and white water kayaking when I was an instructor at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre. These sports combined my love for water, rocks, ropes and adventure. When I was introduced to canyoning I realised it ticked all the boxes with the added bonus of jumping of high things into water! My caving background has taught me a lot about rigging and about pushing myself physically and mentally along with the buzz of exploring unknown areas, something I am keen to do in the canyon world. Kayaking taught me to respect and learn to understand the power of white water which gives me an advantage when navigating big water canyons. I am also the training and safety co-ordinator for the New Zealand Speleological Society (caving) where I have led many rigging and rescue courses. I also help run LandSAR/caveSAR courses, teaching vertical rope rescue skills which are then transferred onto SAREXs where I have performed roles as team member and team leader.

General committee members: James Abbott & Nola Collie

Nola and JamesEver since they began canyoning together, James and Nola have been a highly successful team. They’ve put a huge amount of time and effort into developing their own canyon skills in a progressive and systematic way.  In more recent years, they’ve put a lot back into the sport, by investing strongly into the Canterbury region. Both as a pair and with others from the community, they’ve done a lot of exploring new canyons and developing well-known ones. They’ve played a bit part in making the region more accessible and rich as a canyoning destination for others.

They will bring considerable organisational talents from their professions into the NZCA.

James and Nola will be working closely alongside Grant Prattley to support the NZCA’s mission in Canterbury, as well as being part of the lead organising team for the Canyoning Festival scheduled there in 2020.



Past Committee Members

Here we record the past committee members, to acknowledge their contributions to Canyoning in NZ and to the NZCA.

Annette Philipps  (Advocacy Coordinator/ Aspiring Rep)

Founding member – Sep 2015 – April 2019

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 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.

Annette remains in support of the NZCA’s Advocacy role and presence in the Aspiring area, even though she’s stepped down from the committee.

Justin Venable (Westland Rep)

Founding member – Sep 2015 – April 2018

Ore JVJustin (JV to his mates) has assisted the NZCA with access negotiations to several of the canyons on the west coast. He is also a great ally for canyoning community among the Kayakers who are flocking to take up the sport on the coast.

JV continues to support the work of the NZCA on the coast, even though he’s stepped down from a formal executive position.

He 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

 Leesa Fraser (Treasurer/Secretary)

Founding member – Sep 2015 – April 2018

Wentworth River (30)

The NZCA thanks Leesa for her hard work in setting up the banking and accounting systems of the NZCA.  Leesa also completed the clubs annual returns for the Incorporated Societies Act, and arranged an Income Tax exemption for the club with IRD.