North Island Rock Climbing
North Island, New Zealand
The North Island of New Zealand for some reason hides in the shadow of its larger brother to the south when it comes to rock climbing. Despite warmer weather and less crowds, not to mention a dense strip of established climbing areas (several thousand routes within an hour drive), I have yet to hear anyone refer to North Island climbing save the handful of people I met while climbing there.
It may not have the expansive peaks, nor world famous bouldering of the south, but when it comes to cragging theres enough rock here to keep you busy for months, if not years. There are bits of rock all over the island here or there, but the main accumulation of established climbable rock is located in the central region of the island (Wharepapa South and Lake Taupo areas). A good percentage of this rock is volvanic, a vestige of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in earths history. The rock, ignimbrite, can vary considerably from worthless choss to pocketed sport climbing to fully-welded a denser formation with smooth cracks capable of holding sound gear. The rock at Lake Taupo, ground zero, is a purer Rhyolite; its denser that the ignimbrite round in Wharepapa South.
One of the best features of North Island climbing is the great variety of rock types and climbing styles all within close proximity to each other. For example at Waipapa there is delicate slab and crack climbing on welded ignimbrite, and just around the corner at Mangaokewa there is steep and powerful sport climbing on limestone. There is beautiful scenery in the North Island around most of the climbing areas, from the turquoise waters of Lake Taupo to the rolling planes of the Waikato, and lush native forest abounds. Be sure to check out Kawakawa bay (Lake Taupo) for some of the Islands best rock climbing. Castle Rock Coromandel is a close second with stunning multi pitch sport lines.
Having said all this, if you are visiting from overseas and only have time to visit one island I would recommend the South Island. Mountain project is not very comprehensive for South Island climbing, but there is alot of good stuff to do there (especially alpine style). Also consider the Arapiles in nearby Australia, it has some of the best trad climbing in the world.
Fly in through Auckland or Wellington. Can also fly directly to Rotorua from Australia in certain seasons.
Another resource for Topos is the local website www.freeclimb.co.nz
. It has free downloadable and printible PDF's covering most of the crags. It is generally comprehensive but can sometimes be out of date for crags that are either being devloped, or smaller older crags that have been abandoned.
The website climbnz.org.nz
has recently become alot more comprehensive, and now contains alot of information about climbing routes in the North Island, especially for alpine style areas.
New Zealand (along with Australia and South Africa) use the Ewbank grading system. See the grade conversion table below.
YDS-Ewbank grade conversion
Weather station 0.9 miles from here
230 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',17],['3 Stars',54],['2 Stars',97],['1 Star',52],['Bomb',7]
Classic Climbing Routes in North Island
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in North Island
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for North Island:
Featured Route For North Island
Bomb Arete 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Oceania
: New Zealand
: ... : Mangatepopo Valley
The classic climb of the valley. If you climb only one route at Mangatepopo, it really ought to be this one. Start from the platform at very front toe of the buttress. A better alternative to the last pitch may be to finish via one of the routes on the Upper Tier.Pitch 1Climb directly up hand and fist cracks to a spike of rock. Then make a delicate move left across the slab into a groove, which can be climbed easily to a large belay ledge.Pitch 2Climb leftwards up the easy-angled buttress until ...[more] Browse More Classics in International
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