GPS: -40.839, 172.801 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: James23 on Aug 8, 2007
Getting weather forecast...


Limestone sport crag with a good variety of routes, I think about 250. Some great overhangs, but mostly vertical with a few slabs. Most of the belays are somewhat shaded, but you have a wonderful view of the green countryside at the top. There is an additional cliff 15 minutes away with sunny, open routes directly across the road from the sea.

Also, check out Acid Test....a wicked inverted boulder problem over a glacial stream, on the opposite side of the road. First 15 ft is easy, but I was told there were only a handful of people who'd made it over the tip.

I'll add some more specifics once I find my travel journal, but feel free to edit, as my posting will never be even remotely complete.

Getting There

North end of south island. Main access trail has numbered trails leading off of it, making finding routes super easy. There was a private climbers camp that was just a couple min walk from the crag.

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brat .
Salt Lake City, UT
brat .   Salt Lake City, UT
To get to Paynes Ford, let's assume you're starting in Nelson:

Follow signs to Richmond (I think you'll be on Hwy. 6, heading roughly west). When you get to Richmond, follow signs to Motueka. When you get to Mot, follow signs to Takaka. (If you must stop in Mot, there's a darling little independent theatre, I think it's called the Gecko or something like that.) You'll go up and over the Takaka Hill (bring water for your radiator if you car is so inclined). Driving time from Nelson is about 2 hours. Paynes Ford will be on the right, look for the DOC signs, about 3km before you get to Takaka. I would assume the roads have names or numbers, but it's much easier just to know what cities to head towards.

If you're taking a trip to Golden Bay, DON'T MISS THE MUSSEL INN! Such an awesome spot. And Golden Fries, the fish and chips van thing, is pretty awesome too. Dec 26, 2007
Chris JD
Golden, Co
Chris JD   Golden, Co
I agree with the Golden Fries in Takaka - great place and reasonable prices.

The hangdog camp sells two guidebooks, a $10 and a $25 version. The $10 is good for a couple of day jaunt with good descriptions and hand drawn topos, but tops out about the NZ 24 (hard 5.11) grades. The $25 book is more complete with all the harder routes and photos.

As for Takaka hill - when NZ indicates a curvy road sign - they mean it! I think I counted about 230 turns in 20km over that hill. Jan 11, 2008
Tom Bowker
somewhere in the USA
Tom Bowker   somewhere in the USA
Going around some of the curves at a whopping 18kph my tires were squealing! Nov 18, 2008
seattle, wa
akforty7   seattle, wa
golden fries is closed on mondays!!! be aware of this, and that wholemeal closes real early (like 4pm!) and their food is amazing.

if you want a bowl (yes, bowl) of coffee, hit up dangerous kitchen...and there's pizza. real good kind, note that pizza in new zealand doesn't start with a marinara base...that's bbq sauce. uh-huh. real good, but different.

rest days are rad...but don't rest. but if you must, then try the 'art' of fishing for salmon at a salmon farm (short drive toward's town from hangdog). yeah, there's no skill involved, but fresh?

Apr 26, 2009
If your accustomed to using the YDS take the conversions to the Australian system with a grain of salt. The Kiwis are pretty good sandbaggers and the numbers don't always translate well. Watch out around the 19-24 grades, they can be stiff compared to the American equivalent.

Also, the climbing at Paynes can be quite pumpy and hard to get the onsight. Typically you search through a sea of crap looking for the best hold. It takes a week or maybe longer to really settle into the area, but once you do it can be really, really good. May 7, 2009
Paynes, and the next-door Hang-Dog camp is heaven on earth. simply put. emerald green swimming holes, cliff jumps, Tasty eels to catch in the rivers, Tui's and all manner of other kind of native amazing birds singing from dawn to dusk, oh and the climbing. Get ready for SLIMPERS on beautiful grey limestone. belay among the tree-ferns as you tick off beautiful, artistic gymnastic and technical roots that range from fully overhang 50 feet of the deck (1080 and the letter g) to techy bulge and slab climbing (skiing of a convex slope comes to mind). If you get bored at paynes, head down to the sea-cliffs at Pohara with some other hangdoggers to climb single and double pitch classics over the Tasman sea. In town you'll find badass- homestyle-hippy cuisine and a cast of amazing characters you'll think your in a Tom Robbins Novel.
Don't miss out on drinking at the Muscle Inn, about 20 minutes out of town, one of NZ's older and best breweries, with great live music and parties.
ahh hangdog, Paynes Ford and Takaka town, how i miss thee! Apr 10, 2011
Agree with germsauce... I love this place and the Rock is high quality limestone!!:) Jul 3, 2016
Is the weather climbable in September on the south island? where are the best crags to avoid wet rock? Aug 22, 2017