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When my husband and I found out we’d be arriving in Auckland for our New Zealand honeymoon at 6:30am, we knew we had to find a way to keep ourselves awake all day. Luckily, we discovered a canyoning adventure in Piha, about 45 minutes west of Auckland. It had been recommended to us as one of the best day trips from Auckland, so we booked it. We spent the day abseiling (rappelling) down waterfalls and cliff jumping into ice cold, blue pools. As far as New Zealand tours go, this was one of the best. If you’re an adventure junkie like me, then you’ll find AWOL Adventures’ Piha Canyoning trip to be one of the best Auckland activities as well. And if it’s your first time in New Zealand, make sure you check out these tips for first-time visitors.

How to book your canyoning adventure in Piha

Booking your canyoning adventure in Piha is a piece of cake. You can book your trip directly on AWOL Adventures’ website under Canyon Trips >> Piha Canyon. You’ll have the option of booking a Piha Half Day, Piha Full Day, or Piha by Night trip.

The half day trip includes approximately 1.5 hours of canyoning, and the full day trip includes approximately 3 hours of canyoning. If you’re feeling a bit unsure about abseiling down waterfalls, I would recommend the half day trip. Also, if you’re traveling with children, the half day trip is probably a better option for you.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie and in good physical shape, however, I would highly recommend taking the full day trip. The extra abseils that we got to do on the full day trip were a blast and unlike any we did on the first half of the trip. You’ll also get to crawl through a small crevasse to move from one pool to the next, which is a fun and unique experience if you’ve never done it before.

How to prepare for your canyoning adventure in Piha

There isn’t much you need to do to prepare for your canyoning adventure in Piha. Just remember to bring a swimsuit to wear under the wetsuit, which will be given to you to use on the trip. If you’d like, you can also bring a towel to dry off after the trip, extra warm layers, and sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet. I forgot to bring a spare pair of shoes to get wet and was able to borrow a pair from AWOL Adventures’ large collection of sneakers on site.

Abseiling Piha Canyon

What to expect on your canyoning adventure in Piha

Auckland to Piha

For both the full day and the half day trips, you’ll be picked up from downtown Auckland at 9:30am. From there, your guide will drive your group to a nearby shop to pick up lunch for the full day tour group. Once lunch is stocked in the car, you’ll start the journey west to Piha, which takes around 45 minutes.

In Piha, your driver will first take you to the AWOL Adventures shed, which is connected to the one and only cafe in Piha, Piha Cafe. You can grab a coffee or a pie from the cafe and get suited up in your wetsuit before heading over to the canyon. There are also bathrooms across the street from the cafe, where you can change into your swimsuit.

Learning to abseil

Once everyone in your tour group is ready to go in your wet suits, you’ll all hop back into the van, and your guide will drive the short distance to the start of your canyoning adventure. After unloading the harnesses and helmets from the van, your guide will give you an introduction and instructions for abseiling and give each person in the group an opportunity to practice the abseiling techniques on flat ground before testing them out in a waterfall. There’s also a bathroom next to the parking lot, which will be your last chance to use the facilities until the conclusion of your canyoning adventure.

Canyoning adventure in Piha

The actual canyoning adventure begins with a hike through the rainforest and up to the top of the waterfalls. Here, you’ll be able to cool off from the climb with a short jump into the first pool. The water wasn’t unbearably cold, but it definitely gave us a bit of a shock when we first jumped in.

Cliff jumping at Piha Canyon

From there, you’ll perform a series of abseils and cliff jumps, starting from smaller ones and making your way up to larger ones. If you booked the full day tour, you’ll have a quick lunch break at the bottom of Kitekite Falls, the longest (but not the most difficult) abseil, before continuing onto your final abseil and trek through the canyons.

Abseiling at Piha Canyon

We finished our canyoning adventure at around 3:00pm and returned to the AWOL Adventures shed to change out of our wetsuits and dry off.

Canyoning photos

Once back at the shed, you’ll have the option to purchase photos that your guide took of you during the trip for $20 NZD per person. Since it was our honeymoon, we decided to splurge and purchased photos for both of us. The photos were emailed to us later that day and are a wonderful memory of our trip that we’ll be able to cherish forever.

Crawling through a crevasse at Piha Canyon
Post-canyoning activities

After getting changed out of your wet suit, you’ll be able to decide as a group whether you want to spend some time at Piha Beach, just a short five minute walk from the shed, or head back to Auckland. No one in our group had a strong desire to spend time at the beach, so we grabbed some hot coffee from Piha Cafe and started our journey back to Auckland.

Why a canyoning adventure in Piha is one of the best day trips from Auckland

You can find abseiling and canyoning adventures all over New Zealand, but we loved our experience at Piha. It felt like the perfect level of intensity, where I felt challenged but not so challenged that I wasn’t enjoying it fully. If you’re looking for adventurous Auckland activities that will get you out of the city, then you’ll love a canyoning adventure in Piha.

Looking for other fun things to do in the North Island? Check out these posts for more ideas:


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