Canyoning, Woolshed Creek

Photos and text by Jonathan Carr

Here are some photos from two canyoning trips down Woolshed Creek near Mt Sommers (Southwest of Christchrch). These were organised by Alan Wood as day walks for staff and students in the Electrical Engineering Department at Canterbury. The tramping club did a subsequent trip. This is an excellent day trip and lots of fun! ...particularly on a hot sunny day. The 2hr walk-in along the Mt Sommers walkway (also worth doing as a weekend or day trip) passes through an old coal mine, above moraines from the great Glaciers which occupied the Ashburton-Lake Heron basin and then descends to Woolshed Creek, just above the gorge. Woolshed Creek borders Mt Sommers. Mt Sommers is unusual in that it is of volcanic origin - unlike the neighbouring Canterbury foothills. The water flow through the creek is usually low, but deep pools form beneath the waterfalls in the gorge. The creek cuts a deep narrow gorge through the volcanic rock - sometimes only 1-2m wide. Because much of the creek flows over open rock before entering the canyon, the water can be quite warm in summer - no need for wetsuits. There are two abseils (bolted) but both are unnecessary if you are prepared to jump the waterfalls. However, the second waterfall does have a rock in the pool below, about 3ft beneath the surface... there is a third smaller waterfall which can be jumped, but beware... between two visits only two weeks apart, this lower pool had filled-in with more than a metre of gravel! Canyoning is lots of fun, but it is best to be cautious.

BTW, Woolshed Creek in Winter is a different story... as I found out.. 1ft of snow everywhere and lots of ice in the gorge makes a difference.

Peering into Woolshed Creek canyon (31k) Mr Blobby goes canyoning (40k)
In the first gorge (21k) Bindu (the dog) gets a lesson in abseiling (29k)
The first abseil! (47k) Thomas and the waterfall. (15k)
  • On the water slide! (24k)
  • The second abseil (32k)
  • Negotiating the overhang... (15k)
  • ...then the waterfall (36k)
  • At the bottom of the water slide (52k) In one of the narrow bits! (18k)
    It's wet... (29k)

    Jonathan's gallery
    Copyright (c) 1996 Jonathan Carr