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April 2020 Issue
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Record time for Tararua canyon route

Photo: Tim Sutton

Three keen Wellingtonians have splashed and dashed their way through a classic Tararua route in record time.

The trio of Lee Denhaan, Dave Leppard and Tim Sutton completed the Chamberlain Creek Canyon route in 10hr47min, smashing the previous known record of 15hr.

The approximately 30km route takes in tops travel and canyoning and has been a favourite of Tararua stalwarts since the 1960s.

Beginning at Putara Road, the track climbs to Herepai Hut, before heading off track and into Chamberlain Creek. Travel through the creek involves six rappels, swimming, boulder-hopping and a number of jumps.
“It’s known as the gnarliest stream in the Tararuas, which is saying something if you’ve spent any time in there,” Sutton said.

The route pops out north of Roaring Stag Hut, before exiting via the Ruamahanga Gorge.

The friends packed all of their gear into 20-litre running vests and carried 40m of rope in a purpose-built bag.

The trip inspired the trio to coin the new term ‘Canyonpacking’ – a mashup of canyoning and fastpacking.

Sutton says they weren’t fixated on setting any speed records but kept their pace in order to get the trip done in a day, due to family commitments.

“I knew we were going fast, but it wasn’t the main attraction – we had plenty of time for big bombs and all the important stuff along the way,” he said.