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North Island Rock Climbing 


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Location: -37.0086, 174.7863 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Cameron Fraser, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ryan Kelly on Apr 2, 2009
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Description 

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 there’s 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 earth’s 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; it’s 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.

Getting There 

Fly in through Auckland or Wellington. Can also fly directly to Rotorua from Australia in certain seasons.

Topos 

Rock Climbing Photo: Your one stop guide to North Island rock climbing....
Your one stop guide to North Island rock climbing. Released September 2014. Can be purchased from alpineclub.org.nz/product/rock...


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.

Main Areas 

Kawakawa Bay, Lake Taupo
Rock Climbing Photo: Kawakawa Bay, multi pitch sport and trad  in a stu...
Kawakawa Bay, multi pitch sport and trad in a stunning location


Castle Rock, Coromandel
Rock Climbing Photo: Castle Rock, Coromandel. Great multipitch sport cl...
Castle Rock, Coromandel. Great multipitch sport climbing.


Whanganui Bay, Lake Taupo
Rock Climbing Photo: View down Whekanui Wall on a surprisingly nice day...
View down Whekanui Wall on a surprisingly nice day in winter.


Froggatt's Edge, Wharepapa South
Rock Climbing Photo: Froggatt, a popular sport crag
Froggatt, a popular sport crag


Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve
Rock Climbing Photo: Roof climbing at Mangaokewa
Roof climbing at Mangaokewa


Waipapa, Wharepapa South
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber on the Classic "Arches"
Climber on the Classic "Arches"


Tongariro National Park
Rock Climbing Photo: Whakapapa Gorge, Tongariro National Park
Whakapapa Gorge, Tongariro National Park


Mangorewa Gorge
(not to be confused with Mangaokewa)
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on Archimedes wall
Climbers on Archimedes wall

Grade conversion 

New Zealand (along with Australia and South Africa) use the Ewbank grading system. See the grade conversion table below.
Rock Climbing Photo: YDS-Ewbank grade conversion
YDS-Ewbank grade conversion

Climbing Season



Weather station 0.9 miles from here

235 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',17],['3 Stars',56],['2 Stars',99],['1 Star',53],['Bomb',7]
['<=5.6',14],['5.7',23],['5.8',22],['5.9',38],['5.10',92],['5.11',31],['5.12',13],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',2],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in North Island

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for North Island:
High Hopes   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 2 pitches, 150'   Kawakawa Bay : The Point
Millennium Madness   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 90'   Main Cliff : Millenium Wall
2 stroke tantrum   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 400'   Castle Rock : Quiet Earth Wall
The Arches   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 100'   Main Cliff : The Arch Area
Terror Incognito   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Froggatt's Edge : Main Wall
Monsterpiece Theatre   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 90'   Froggatt's Edge : Main Wall
Prokarstination   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Mangaokewa : The Grandstands
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in North Island

Featured Route For North Island
Rock Climbing Photo: The final headwall, pitch 4

2 stroke tantrum 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a  Oceania : New Zealand : ... : Quiet Earth Wall
A nice long line with varied climbing and great views. 18/5.10a all the way, although you probably don't want ot do this route if you are only just climbing 18/5.10a.Pitch 1 (20m)Climb the slab (first 3 bolts in common with "Ins and outs"). Head right and up to belay ledge with some trees.Pitch 2 (20m)Climb the face with several steep bulges to navigate, but on great holds. Finish up on an easy slab to large belay ledge.Pitch 3 (35m)Now things start getting even more fun. Bridge up a series of g...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of North Island Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Jo Frances on Gecko Groove
Jo Frances on Gecko Groove
Rock Climbing Photo: Ti Point
Ti Point
Rock Climbing Photo: River wall, Mangorewa Gorge
River wall, Mangorewa Gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: New Zealand's answer to Thailand's famous beachsid...
New Zealand's answer to Thailand's famous beachsid...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt Maunganui beach, as seen from the crag.
Mt Maunganui beach, as seen from the crag.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pakeho, Northern Taranaki
Pakeho, Northern Taranaki
Rock Climbing Photo: Because Buck Rock is located part way up Mt Te Aro...
Because Buck Rock is located part way up Mt Te Aro...

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