The Fiendish guide to climbing in New Zealandby Fiend Jul/2003
This article has been read 19,676 times
Getting around: Combine the traffic of Scotland in the early hours, a Japanese-orientated car market so cheap they almost pay you to have cars, and petrol at "proper" prices, and it's clear what's the best way to get around. Pity the speed limit's only 62mph tho. Go cheap or save up a bank-breaking 3 grand, treat yourself to a rudified Toyota Celica or Subura Impreza and join the other hoons.
Eating: Food is cheap and plentiful, although if you're unfortunate enough to have chosen vegetarianism as your calling, you might struggle. Supermarkets, take-aways, cafes, and good fish and chip shops abound. Recommended highlights include: The plethora of cheap Asian eateries in all cities, the ubiquitous steak and cheese pies, Paddle Pops ice creams and Hubbards cereals. Ef liked the cafe scene - funky places, great savoury muffins, good coffee.
Sleeping: Accomodation is also plentiful. Be warned that it gets cool at night even in summer. The usual options include car+tent, camper van, or perhaps most sensible, car+campsite cabins or hostels. Likewise it's fairly cheap, though it pays to look around for the best places.
Weather: Hot sun, cool breeze, fresh showers sums up NZ. The weather changes very quickly so don't be put off by rain as it often blows over, and take forecasts with a handful of salt. Remember this is upside-down land so the seasons and sun direction are opposite - and although the air is often cool, the sun is bloody fierce indeed. Beware of North facing crags and dying of sunstroke. The warmer North Island has a climate that spreads sunshine and showers across the whole country, while in the cooler South Island the Southern Alps keep the West rainy and the East dry. Most guidebooks have good information about how well the crags are suited to various weather conditions.
Gear: Three things to remember here.
Grades and stars: Once you've got used to a crude numerical system that tells you neither the state of protection nor the hardest moves, the grades are fairly servicable. See the UKC and Rockfax grade tables to begin your confusion.
There is a definite variation from area to area, this is mentioned in each area's section. Be aware that there are few good genuinely easy routes (10-14), and they can be underused as the wall-bred apes jump straight to 16+ where a better choice of climbing begins. To add further demoralisation, "moderate climbs" don't mean that at all, they mean "mid-grade climbs", usually around 18-20.
Stars are pretty reliable although there's a quite a few excellent understarred routes. A couple of guides use a sparse single star system which is not particularly informative - thus spying out good unstarred routes is more relevant.
Guidebooks: I think one should be wary of Climbing New Zealand by Posing Productions. Although it gives an overview of most of NZ, and along with South Island rock it is available in the UK, we thought it an amateur effort and found the information patchy and sometimes unreliable. Instead....
Northern Rock - Ngahere, Ti Point, Mt Eden and a few other Northland crags. Single stars only.
Central North Island Rock - Good for Froggatt, Wharepapa South, the adventurous Mangatepopo valley, and some minor Taupo crags (note that the excellent Motuoapa is now banned).
Or alternatively both the Froggatt and Wharepapa guides - all the climbs but no star system.
New Ignimbrite Climbs - all the other ignimbrite crags, but check the update sheet too.
Waipapa - available from Bryce's
Whanganui Rock - Single stars only.
South Island Rock - just about everything except Wanaka. Comprehensive if slightly variable in accuracy.
Paynes and Beyond - available from Hangdog and conveniently in easy (up to 23) and hard (23 +) versions. Includes the seacliffs and lots more routes.
Queenstown Climbing - should be back in print sometime soon, various other crags as well as Wye Creek.
Wanaka Rock - the guide.
There are also guides available to the Port Hills and Dunedin Rock but these don't have much useful extra information.
Websites: Don't expect an NZClimbing.com. Their climbing websites are few and far between. The only regularly updated one is www.mojozone.co.nz and there is also an older general site at www.climb.co.nz.
OK! On to the crags themselves:
Mt Eden Quarry:
Jane Fonda Wall:
Evan's Pass, Cattlestop Crag and Mt Pleasant:
Sebastapol Bluffs, Mt Cook:
Hanging Rock area:
Long Beach, Dunedin:
You can also download this article in 3 sections as separate PDF files:
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