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Going guided: Sleeping God Canyon

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June 2020 Issue

Coromandel’s Sleeping God Canyon isn’t yet a household name like Cathedral Cove or Hot Water Beach, but it should be.

Deep in the Kauaeranga Valley lies a hidden playground, unbeknownst to thousands of trampers who tackle the nearby Pinnacles Track every year.

Three hundred metres of vertical descent, dropping over waterfalls, down rock slides and through cathedral canyons – it’s adrenaline central.

“The name Sleeping God Canyon really sums it up,” says Katie Hurlow, who took on the canyoning experience with her husband. “There’s this giant hidden away in the bush nobody seems to know about.”

Guide Anna Crafer, who lives in Thames, agrees. “I used to drive to work from Waitomo, but now I live here, and hardly anyone knows that it’s just there,” she says.

It’s the locals, however, who tend to be the most rewarding clients, as they’re often harder to impress in their own backyards.

“Canyoning has all of the things adventurous Kiwis like; heights, water, jumping off stuff, good banter  and small groups,” she says.

Clients need to be fit enough to do a day hike, but no additional experience is required, and for most the Sleeping God Canyon is their first time canyoning.

“And that’s a good thing,” Crafer says. “It’s not often as a grown-up that you get outside your comfort zone in a safe environment, and that’s part of the attraction.

“At the end of the day, it’s the best feeling, because [clients] have done it, they’ve pushed through it, and they knew we were keeping them safe, but were still scared to do it.”

Hurlow says the experience is so good that it should be permanently packed, but is glad it has remained a small tight-knit business. 

“By the end of the day you’re all eating burgers and yarning together, and it’s got quite a quintessential Kiwi flavour,” she says.

It is the people too that keep Crafer going back.

“I’m guiding the same canyon every time but I never get bored, because the people make it different every time,” she says. “I love taking people a little outside their comfort zone and seeing them feed off it when they realise they can do it.” 

Where Sleeping God Canyon, Coromandel Peninsula
Who Canyonz, www.canyonz.co.nz
When Year round
Duration Half and full day options
Price From $270