About the NZCA

Who are we?

The NZ Canyoning Association is a non-profit, incorporated society run by volunteers.

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 either with the committee or if you have ideas for the NZ Canyoning Association in your region, click the button below.

Become a member

Why join the NZ Canyoning Association (NZCA)?

Each member contributes to our mission to:

Protect our Canyons, raise the awareness of our Canyoners and grow the sport of Canyoning in New Zealand safely.

As a member you can:

  • Attend NZCA events (Some events may have a fee to cover the bonafide expenses of running that event)
  • Apply to the Canyon Fund for grants.
  • For a small additional fee, receive Federated Mountain Club of NZ’s quarterly magazine and Discount card (including 30% off a DOC annual hut pass)
  • Vote at any NZCA meetings/AGMs

About your membership

Your fee goes towards the expenses of running the association, advocating for canyoning and contributing to the Canyon Fund.  

Membership lasts for two summer seasons: so whenever you join, you’ll be able to participate in one bi-annual festival, plus any smaller meet-ups or events!

Become a Supporter

If you don’t want to join as a member, you can still show your support. 

Become a supporter by following our NZCA Facebook page!   www.facebook.com/NZCanyoningAssociation

We’ll make announcements of NZCA news through that page, so you’ll be in the loop for advocacy issues, event announcements and more. The more supporters, the more we know we can represent the canyoning community.

Strategic Objectives

Club Rules

The NZ Canyoning Association is an Incorporated Society.  The rules of the club are available here for members reference.

NZ Canyoning Association – Rules v2.3

Committee Roles

President: overall leadership of the committee and chairperson for club meetings.

Community officer: achieve the outcomes of the community strategic objectives.

Advocacy coordinator: achieve the outcomes of the advocacy strategic objectives.

Treasurer/Secretary: 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

Technical Standards Officer: achieve the outcomes of the Technical standards strategic objectives.

Area rep: represent the interests of the local canyoners within the NZ Canyoning Association. Also, to organise regional activities and events from time to time.

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

Our Committee

Dan Clearwater

President / Community Officer - Founding member Sep 2015 - present

Dan 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.


Warren Fitzgerald

Treasurer/Secretary: May 2018 - present

Warren 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 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.


Shanan Fraser

Technical Standards Officer: Founding member Sep 2015 - present

Shanan has a long history working and playing in New Zealand’s outdoors having 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.

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




Russ Hodgson

General committe: Founding member Sep 2015 - present

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 an NZOIA Canyon assessor.

Russ was a Upper North Island area rep from Sep 2015 to May 2021. 


Oli Polson

SAR Officer. Founding member Sep 2015 - present

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 Nelson, 

Oli was a Upper North Island area rep from Sep 2015 to May 2021. 

sar@nzcanyoningassociation.org  and Oli@nzcanyoningassociation.org



Lee Den Haan

Lower North Island Rep: April 2017 - present

I have been a canyoning guide for five and a half years. I have guide canyons in New Zealand, Japan, and Nepal. 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 a 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 a paramedic.

I’m looking forward to helping grow the community, specifically in training and education at the grassroots 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.

Richard Bramley

Top of the South Rep: Founding member Sep 2015 - present

Richard is a keen recreational canyoner, based in the Top of the South. He came into the sport from caving and got hooked once he realised how many first descents are up for grabs in NZ. He has opened over 20 new canyons, plus many more failed exploration missions. He helped organise the 2018 NZ Canyon Festival in St Arnaud and has been involved in getting CanyonSAR set up in NZ.



Grant Prattley

Canterbury Rep: Founding member Sep 2015 - present

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 programme for SARINZ and managing/guiding at Big Rock Canyons in Canterbury. Grant is an NZOIA Canyon 2 holder.


Patrick Timm

Aspiring area rep: Apr 2020 - present

I started canyoning in 2013 in the awfully flat landscape of Brisbane, Australia. It started as something to do on the rainy days to replace rock climbing. I explored many creeks and gorges in search of narrow canyons, and along the way helped grow the local interest in it, making a guide online and taking many people out on trips. There were few canyons around however and I exhausted the exploration after several years.

 It was only in 2018 when I moved to Queenstown that my interest in canyoning really grew. My main passion at the time was alpine and rock climbing, but it was the team aspect of canyoning, the exploration and the commitment of a descent that I truly loved and is what makes me want to go canyoning every weekend now. I am also a member of Canyon SAR, an opportunity I feel privileged to be able to have.

Being involved with the NZCA will allow me to help grow the sport and protect our canyons, after all, it’s the people that make a sport a community. In New Zealand we will have larger proportions of international visitors than local canyoners, so some of my focus will be in making the sport accessible and sustainable, with ideas such as hire bins for Didymo washes and assisting with sustainable canyoning plans for access tracks and anchors.

 It’s an exciting time to be canyoning in New Zealand, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

Contact Patrick if you’ve got questions about anything to do with NZCA in the lower South Island. 



Toine Houtenbos

General committee member: Founding member Sep 2015 - present

After 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 a 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 one of four initial 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 under 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 committee as well as helping with specific projects when needed.

James Abbott & Nola Collie

General committee members: May 2018 - present

Ever 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 highly successful 2020 Canyoning Festival..

Nola@nzcanyoningassociation.org   James@nzcanyoningassociation.org

Tom Johns

General committee member: April 2020 - present

Tom was a rock climber once, and a caver, and sometimes climbed mountains. He even occasionally got in a boat and floated down rivers. Then he heard about the sport of canyoning and since then he has been busy mashing all of these skills into a rubbersuit.

Tom has done some canyons, not enough to be an expert (he’s wholly unqualified), but enough to consider himself an enthusiast. He even bought a Hilti and like a rubber clad sheep rustler, stole many fine first descents from other people. That’s a horrible mental image isn’t it.

Currently based in Christchurch, and loves canyoning in the Canterbury foothills and the Southern Alps at large, he would like to keep exploring canyons expanding his skill set and trying to encourage more people to take up the sport.


Brad Schimanski

Upper North Island area rep: May 2021 - present

Brad has worked as a cave guide, events manager, hiking guide and enjoys a wide range of outdoor pursuits; climbing, snowboarding, paragliding, kayaking and packrafting.

These days with a young family he concentrates on Canyoning, exploring for new canyons in the North Island and volunteering for the Upper North Island CanyonSAR team. 

Get in touch with Brad if you’ve got questions about anything Upper North Island Canyoning related:


Gavin Barry-Morgan

General committee member: May 2021 - present

Gavin has a background in a number of outdoor pursuits, Skiing, Whitewater Kayaking, Alpinism as well as canyoning.

Always keen to bring new people to the sport, he intend to focus his time at the NZCA on engaging with the alpine/climbing communities more to encourage them to give Canyoning a go and help grow our community. 

He works in outdoor education, based in Wellington. 


Past Committee Members

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

Pete has helped NZCA in particular with bolting standards development, and support to canyoning in the upper north island. 

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. 

Chris has assisted the NZCA running Canyon SAR courses and support to festivals and general debates on the executive.

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 initially 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 introduced to canyoning I realised it ticked all the boxes with the bonus of jumping off high things into the 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 coordinator 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 transferred onto SAREXs where I have performed roles as a team member and team leader.

Andy assisted the NZCA in developing our Safety Mangement Plan, alongside other committee members such as Grant Prattley and Dan Clearwater. 

I’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 have already provided the associat ion 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.

Justin (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 the 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.

Annette contributed a number of submissions to the Department of Conservation relating to NZCA and canyoning, such as the Wellington CMS, Paparoa National Park Management Plan, Griffin Creek and McCulloghs creek hydro scheme consents. 

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.


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.