NZ Canyoning festival update #4 – 17 Jan

Hi all

The festival is nearly upon us, so this is the last major update before we see you all in St Arnaud. Brace yourself, it’s a big one…
When/where to meet
  • There will be an informal get together at the Festival HQ (Lake Rotoiti Community Hall, opposite the school) from 7pm on Friday (Feb 2).
  • The festival proper starts on Saturday morning (Feb 3).
  • For trip leaders/assistants (you know who you are), your briefing is at 7:30am at the Festival HQ. Please come to this even if you are not hosting a trip till Sun or Mon.
  • For everyone else, there will be a briefing at 8am on Sat, Sun, and Mon mornings at the Festival HQ. Be on time and be ready to go canyoning immediately following the briefing. Everyone will have to fill in some basic paperwork before they head off for the day. The overall program is here.
  • Those attending the sarex (you know who you are), meet at the Festival HQ at 8am on the Friday unless you get an sms otherwise.
Canyon trips and workshops
  • Each day is a mix of hosted canyoning trips and workshops (explanation here). We have not organised enough to keep all 100 of you occupied and we expect that many people will organise their own canyoning trips.
  • From Jan 22nd onwards, you will be able to put your name down against the organised trips/workshops of your choosing. Do this by opening the program spreadsheet. It’ll be locked to editing till Jan 22 as we finalise it, but you’re welcome to view it beforehand. Please read the descriptions carefully (and check out the topos for the canyons) and only put your name down if the canyon matches your skills. Trip leaders will ask about your skill/experience to confirm you’ve chosen appropriately. These are NOT guided trips; you must have sufficient skills and experience to be an autonomous member of the group.
  • We’ve loaded the Saturday and Sunday with lots of workshops and trips. Less so on Monday, because we assume by then you’ll have a good feel for the canyons and have met enough people to organise your own trips.
  • In general, we’re putting more emphasis on workshops than trips. This is for three main reasons. (1) You can always do trips, but how often do you get the chance to do workshops? (2) If it rains we can still do workshops (3) The canyons in Nelson Lakes are pretty good, but they’re not the best in the country, so people with lots of NZ experience may not be desperate to do them all. We encourage you to make the most of the workshop opportunities.
  • We encourage you to bring a copy of the guidebook (or buy one at the festival) and bring a printed copy of the festival info pack which has lots of free topos for canyons developed since the guidebook was published.
  • What if it rains? Well then all our best laid plans go out the window and we’ll have to improvise. If it is raining in the morning, please still come to the briefing, but be prepared to wait an hour or so while we come up with new plans. We may post an update to the Facebook event, so check it each morning.
  • We haven’t organised any trips to the canyons in the Abel Tasman. This is because they’re a bit further from St Arnaud (~2hrs drive) and most require a water taxi. But they’re great canyons and we encourage people to do them before or after the festival. There’s going to be a pub meetup in Motueka (which is near Abel Tasman) on the following Wednesday (Feb 7).
Food, drink, and accommodation
  • Hopefully you realise this by now, but it’s up to you to sort out your own accommodation and food etc. More info here.
  • There are very few takeaway options in St Arnaud (other than a cafe and fish & chips, open till 8pm usually), so stock up before you arrive. There is a small shop in St Arnaud but it’ll be expensive. There are other small FourSquare supermarkets in Murchison and Wakefield (~45mins drive). The closest large supermarket is in Richmond (1hrs drive).
  • There will hopefully be a sausage sizzle on the Saturday or Sunday evening. So bring a little cash for that. They might have vegetarian sausages but no promises.
  • You’re welcome to bring your own alcohol to the Festival HQ each evening. I think the St Arnaud store/petrol station probably has some, but it’ll be very expensive. So stock up in advance.
  • There will be hot water and cups etc at the Festival HQ so feel free to bring your own tea, coffee etc.
  • Some of the canyons are only easily accessible by water taxi (Chandler, Clearwater, Barefoot, Shift). Lake Rotoiti Water Taxi is booked in to service the festival every morning and evening, so you don’t need to worry about booking this. It’ll cost $40pp per return trip. You will need to pay this, it’s not covered by your registration fee. The water taxi takes both cash and card apparently.
  • Other canyons (Hope, Ellis, Blue, St Ronans, Whisky, Peak) are accessible by car and foot. We presume you will all car pool each day.
  • You must be self sufficient. Bring all your own canyoning gear, including ropes (although you will likely be able to share ropes with others on your trips).
  • Even in summer some of the canyons can be cold, so make sure your wetsuit is warm enough. I personally canyon in a 5mm surf wetsuit and use a thick hood, but I’m a skinny runt that feels the cold.
  • Please make sure every group brings their own tub and detergent to de-didymo their gear each day. This is really important – the lake and the Travers river (which you may have to cross) are infected and we really don’t want didymo in the canyons. More info here.
  • Our lead partner is CanyonStore who have have contributed massively with sponsored gear to setup the canyons for the festival.  Access Gear is our top kiwi partner and has contributed canyoning bags and canyon gear for both this festival and the last one. Our partners will have stalls up in the hall. Bring cash in case you want to buy gear from them.  We encourage you to support them!
  • There will be a fundraising raffle to win awesome gear and vouchers contributed by our partners. Bring cash for that.
Things that bite/sting
  • Unfortunately it sounds like it’s going to be a bumper year for wasps in the Nelson Lakes National Park because it was an unseasonably warm Nov/Dec. This means the bush will be crawling with them and there’s pretty good odds you’ll get stung at least once during the festival (all part of the adventure). If you are allergic (or don’t know if you’re allergic), you should bring an epipen and/or antihistamine tablets.
  • St Arnaud has sandflies. They’re usually not too bad, especially if it’s really hot or there is a breeze, but life’s still a lot more pleasant if you bring insect repellent.

Safety management

  • As you all know, canyoning activities include an element of risk that cannot be eliminated except by not going canyoning!  Even though we aren’t required to do so by law (purely volunteer recreational associations are exempt) NZCA has created a Safety Management Plan. Everyone attending the festival must read the plan, and follow its policies and guidance.  The major points of the SMP will be reiterated at a separate leaders briefing, and at the main briefing prior to the start of the event.
  • If you’re unsure about anything during a trip, make sure you ask for assistance. Don’t be afraid to question someone’s anchor, check their rigging, or ask for them to explain again what they have done, or why they have done it. Canyoning is a team activity.
  • Your emergency contact person: Please pass on the link for the Incident Response Plan to your loved ones/emergency contact person.
  • If you have an personal locator beacon, bring it, and make sure the person who gets called if you push the button knows that you’ll be at the festival and that they should call the event manager (Richard Bramley +64 22 045 0920).
Got a question?
  • We’re pretty busy, so if it’s a generic question please try posting it on Kiwicanyons first. (And check the festival website).
  • Failing that you can reply to this email and we’ll do our best to respond quickly.
See you soon.