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 rhyolitic 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 cragging.
Fly in through Auckland or Wellington.
The best 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 It is generally very comprehensive but can sometimes be out of date for crags that are either being devloped, or smaller older crags that have been abandoned. Notible exceptions include Whangnaui Bay and Tongariro which do not feature on the freeclimb website. A paper guidebook for these areas can be purchased from some outdoor shops (e.g. Bivouac Outdoor) or online.
The website climbnz.org.nz has recently become alot more comprehensive, and now contains alot of information about climbing routes in the North Island.
Whanganui Bay, Lake Taupo
| || View down Whekanui Wall on a surprisingly nice day in winter. |
Kawakawa Bay, Lake Taupo
| || Pitch 3 of Sidewinder, Miltipitch sport classic |
Froggatt's Edge, Wharepapa South
| || Froggatt, a popular sport crag |
Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve
| || Roof climbing at Mangaokewa |
Waipapa, Wharepapa South
| || Climber on the Classic "Arches" |
Castle Rock, Coromandel
| || Exposed multi-pitch sport in the Kookmeyers, Castle Rock Coromandel (not to be confused with Castle Rock Wharepapa) |
Tongariro National Park
| || The south face of Mt. Ngauruhoe. As we discovered on our 26-mile walk, this volcanoe looks exactly the same from every angle...its a perfect cone. |
219 Total Routes
['4 Stars',18],['3 Stars',47],['2 Stars',90],['1 Star',53],['Bomb',7]
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