Makarora Festival

Wonderland Lodge, Makarora

Friday 1 March to Monday 4 March


Pre-Festival Activities

Friday 1 March 2024

  • 7:30 am-6 pm: National Canyon SAREX. Invite only. It is an official activity of LandSAR NZ, in conjunction with the NZ Canyoning Association. See the National Canyon SAREX page for more information. 

Official festival activities

These activities are either at ‘the bar‘ (main public bar) or ‘the top lodge’ (our exclusive festival HQ building)

Friday, 1 March

From 6pm @ the bar
  • Grab a drink and join us for an informal meet and greet.
  • Raffle tickets on sale from Rachel Jones:  $2 cash each! details here. 


Saturday, 2 March

7:30am @ the top lodge.  Pick up your pre-ordered festival T-shirt between now and the main daily briefing. 

7:45am @ the top lodge  Briefing for Workshop facilitators/leaders

8:00am @ the top lodge  Main daily briefing for all participants.

  • Workshop signups
  • Trip intentions and sign in/out procedure
  • Emergency procedures
  • 2nd – hand gear sale begins – details here

From 6pm @ the bar Official festival social event.

  • Sign in at the bar
  • Informal drinks, meet & greet
  • Check out our sponsor’s goodies
  • Buy raffle tickets from Rachel Jones, $2 cash each. 

7:00pm @ the bar Dinner is served

8:00pm @ the bar Keynote presentation: The Tuke River with Rata Lovel-Smith

9:00pm @ the bar Raffle is drawn

  • You’ve got to be there to win…  Timing is approximate, so stick around till it happens!!


Sunday, 3 March

7:45am @ the top lodge  Briefing for Workshop facilitators/leaders

8:00am @ the top lodge  Main daily briefing for all participants.

Monday, 4 March

7:45am @ the top lodge  Briefing for Workshop facilitators/leaders

8:00am @ the top lodge  Main daily briefing for all participants.

2:00pm  The festival ends.

If your trip is likely to end later than 2pm, you need ask someone from home to keep your intentions/call out:  the festival organisers will be headed home at 2pm!

Safety Documents​

If someone is overdue or needs assistance, read the Incident response plan:

Makarora Incident Response Plan v1.2 2024 


Safety Management Plan: NZCA SMP V1.2 2018

Official NZCA Activity Sheet: Official NZCA Activity Sheet V1.

2nd-hand gear sale @ top lodge morning brief

Got any bits of gear that you just don’t use any more?  Bring them along to sell at the festival!

Bring your gear to top lodge to the morning briefings, starting Saturday morning.  We will have sticky labels so you can write the price, your name and phone number.  Its up to you if you are willing to leave your gear for sale in the lodge during the day.  

T’s & C’s

  • Buyers responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the buyer to determine if any safety-related gear is suitable to use.  If in doubt, ask around; there will be dozens of highly experienced canyoners who can offer an opinion. If they aren’t sure, then just don’t buy it..
  • Sellers responsibilities. Sellers take responsibility for the security of any gear which is offered for sale. NZCA nor the venue take any responsibility for any gear which goes missing. 
  • Koha. In the spirit of fundraising for the NZ Canyoning Association, a 10% koha is suggested from the seller to the NZCA.  


Festival Sponsors & Raffle

A huge thank you to our sponsors! Please support them as they have supported the festival!

 Sponsors are providing prizes for the festival raffle and are listed in alphabetical order below 🙂  Many are going to be there in person at the festival to chat and answer your questions about thier products.. Some will even have special goodies for sale at the festival!

About the Raffle

$2 CASH per ticket
Buy your tickets from Rachel Jones, Friday and Saturday nights at the bar. The draw will be at the Saturday night social function.
All proceeds go directly to the NZCA Canyon fund, for supporting canyoning opportunities around the country. 

Access Gear is well known for thier range of robust and functional canyoning packs.  

Based in Auckland, they also stock a wide range of technical equipment for canyoning, caving and height safety work. 

Visit them online at:

Raffle prizes: Kordas Ropes, Canyon Bags, T-shirts, Stickers, Whistles.

Aspiring manufactures a wide range of sewn height-safety products, including harnesses, slings and protection.

Based in Christchurch, they also stock a wide range of technical gear for hieght safety, adventure tourism, climbing, caving, mountaineering, tramping and of course canyoning!

Visit them online at

Raffle prizes: Canyon bag 35L, CT canyoning harnesses, Dry Bags x2, Buffs, Stickers.

Light, fast, tasty nourishing food for adventurers.

Based in Invercargill, Backcountry Cuisine’s Freeze Dri food is available all over New Zealand and Australia.

Visit them online at

Raffle prizes: 8 Elite Dehydrated meals, 8 dehydrated drinks.

Based in the Blue Mountains, Canyon Gear is on the doorstep of Australia’s most famous and popular canyoning destination.

They stock a number of New Zealand canyoning products, as well as a wide range of international brands for canyoning adentures. 

Visit them online at

Raffle prizes: Glacier black pivot descender, I love canyoning stickers.

CanyonZone is a specialist web-store for just about any type of canyoning and caving equipment you can imagine. 

Based in the Netherlands, they ship gear quickly worldwide.

Visit them online at

Raffle Prizes: 4x CRTR3 descenders, Gift cards, small gadgets 

Founded in Germany in 1863, Edelrid is a major European manufacturer of technical equipment for verticality.

Their canyoning specific range includes ropes, descenders, carabiners, packs, harnesses and knives.

They are imported and distributed by Mountain Adventure, based in Christchurch.

Check out the range at


Futher Faster is an independant retailer for all things paddling, tramping, climbing and mountaineering. Plus all the kit for adventures with Dogs!

Walk into their Christchurch store, or shop online: 

Raffle prizes: 2x $50 Vouchers, 2x Stickers, 2x trucker hats

Thanks to the team at Crimson Badger Brewing, you can enjoy a locally brewed alcoholic Ginger Beer!

Just what you need after a long day in the canyon ;0)

Visit to learn more or to buy some beer!

Raffle prizes: Cap, long sleeve shirt, 4×12 400ml Cans

Mountain Adventure is the distributor of many of your favourite outdoor brands… La Sportiva, Nemo, Dueter, Leki, Fenix, Edelrid, Grivel, Metolius, Primus and Nalgene just to name a few! 

Raffle Prizes: Zodiac helmet, Hannibal descender, Rescue knife, Nalgene bottles

Korda’s is a rope manufacturer based in Spain.  Their super bright canyoning ropes are highly popular in NZ. A key feature is that the sheath and the core are bonded to one another: increasing the wear resistance, and eliminating ‘sheath slippage’ which can happen on normal kernmantle ropes.

Korda’s ropes are distributed in New Zealand by Accessgear.

Canyoning NZ is based in Queenstown, and offers guided canyoning trips around Queenstown and the Haast Pass.  They also run training courses for recreational canyoners, plus offer the only canyon gear hire service in NZ (that we know of!)

They are bringing some T-shirts and caps as raffle prizes, plus are offering 20% of guided tours for the rest of the season for anyone involved in the festival. Just use code canyonfest24 when booking!


The New Zealand Canyoning School is based in Motueka, offering a wide range of training for beginners, right through to experts, canyon guides and rescue volunteers.

They are providing 15% off training courses for Festival Participants until the end of 2024. Just get in touch and show them your registration to qualify. 

They are also giving 2x $100 training vouchers, plus some hats & shirts for the raffle! 


V7 Academy is arguably the most comprehensive online training platform for canyoning in the world.  

A free Level 1 course introduces the basics, and a very detailed Level 2 course covers almost every aspect of intermediate and advanced canyoning skill.

V7 Academy is donating a Level 2 course, valued at $250USD for the raffle. 

The Canyons

Makarora is just minutes south of the most famous canyoning area in NZ, the Haast Pass. Checkout for all the info on local classics.

The closest canyon is Ore Stream v4a5III*** (4 minutes)  and  Imp Grotto v4a3I*** is the fartherest at 32 minutes.


Pre-festival training courses

If you’re looking to brush up on your skills, several canyon guiding companies have indicated they can put on training immediately prior to the festival.

NZCA is not affiliated with any of these companies; all were given the chance to feature thier courses here, and are listed in alphabetical order. 

Big Rock Adventures

Canyoning New Zealand


Deep Canyon

New Zealand Canyoning School 

South Canyons

  • Based in Wanaka, South Canyons is run by Alain Rohr, who is a canyoning legend responsible for many of the 1st decents in the Haast region. 
  • Alain can offer tailored canyoning training courses on demand.
  • Contact South Canyons for more information. 

Venue and accomodation


The Festival social events and breifings will be held at Wonderland Lodge, Makarora

Located just minutes down the road from the most famous Canyoning area in New Zealand, the Haast Pass. 

Accommodation @ Wonderland Lodge

It is your responsibilty to arrange your own accomodation.

For bookings until 31 December 2023.

  • We have negotiated with the venue to block out the accomodation during the festival dates until 31 December 2023.
  • To get accomodation, you will need to book directly with the venue.
  • Remember to tell them you are with the Canyoning Festival!
  • There are a variety of cabins and dorms available.


From 1st Jan 2024, 

Wonderland will open bookings to the public…  

What is available and what does it cost?

(Prices correct as at September 2023)

  • Studio chalet : sleeps 1 or couple $150  (queen bed)
  • 2 room studio chalet: $180 sleeps 5 (queen 3 singles)
  • winged chalet: $170 sleeps 4 (queen 2 singles)
  • Superior room: $130 sleeps 1 or couple (king bed)
  • Superior 2 room: $180 sleeps 5 (king bed 3 singles)

(all the above units contain private bathroom and some form of cooking facilities eg toaster, kettle etc) 

  • Cabin $90 sleeps 3 (double, 2 singles) 
  • Economy cabin $80 sleeps 4 (singles)
  • Private economy Cabin sleeps 5 ( queen, 3 singles)
  • Camping $20 for Non power site $40 for power site   $50 for Campers with more than 2 people. 

Accommodation nearby

There are other accommodation options nearby,  from luxurious to DOC campgrounds. All of these book out early for the summer season, so if you want to do your own thing, book now!

Cameron Flat DOC Campsite  (4 minute drive from the venue)

Frequently Asked Questions

Nah… Just save the date, and chat to people who’ve been to a festival before.  We’ll put up information as soon as it is available.

NZCA is a volunteer run, not for profit incorporated society. The refund policy is to reduce the burden on our volunteers, and ensure the NZCA is not out of pocket.

Any refunds made will be less any fees charged to us by our Stripe payment gateway,. 

Festival Registration.

  • Within 2 weeks of the event, refunds will only be given for the portions of the registration fee we haven’t spent yet. Ie, the buffet catering cost will likely be withheld. 
  • Within 48hrs of the event, cancellations for any reason (by the member, by the venue, by NZCA, by force majuere) no refunds for the festival registration will be given.  

Membership fees 

These may be refunded on a case by case basis, on the sole discretion of the NZCA. Any such refunds would be minus any processing fees (charged by the Stripe payment gateway)

Membership to NZCA

NZCA membership is $50 per person, and expires after two summer seasons.  Why join? Because only members of NZCA can register for the festival!

See the ‘join NZCA‘ page for more details on what membership includes, why you have to be a member to attend our events, and where that money goes. 

Festival registration

Festival registration is $60 per person, and is only to cover the cost to the association for putting on the event. These costs include:

  • a seriously good buffet dinner on Saturday night 
  • venue hire
  • didymo cleaning gear
  • stationary (eg, for trip sign out sheets, safety plans ect) and other minor miscellaneous costs

Not included in Festival registration

Accomodation, food (other than Saturday night) and transport.  These are your own responsibility to arrange.