Elevation: 16 ft
GPS: -37.009, 174.786 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 199,070 total · 1,442/month
Shared By: Ryan Kelly on Apr 1, 2009
Admins: Cameron Fraser


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.


Your one stop guide to North Island rock climbing. Released September 2014. Can be purchased from alpineclub.org.nz/product/r…

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.

The website NZ Topo Map is a great source of topographical map information, especially if the crag you are climbing at requires navigation for the approach.

Grade conversion

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

281 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

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Classic Climbing Routes at North Island

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
High Hopes
Sport 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Millennium Madness
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
The Arches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Angry American
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Sex Panther
Trad, Sport 2 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
2 Stroke Tantrum
Sport 4 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Terror Incognito
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Sport 3 pitches
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Monsterpiece Theatre
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
High Hopes Lake Taupo > Kawakawa Bay > Point
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport 2 pitches
Millennium Madness Waikato & King… > … > Main Cliff > Millenium Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
The Arches Waikato & King… > … > Main Cliff > Arch Area
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Angry American Waikato & King… > Mangaokewa > Wall of Teeth
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Sex Panther Lake Taupo > Kawakawa Bay > Bluff
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Sport 2 pitches
2 Stroke Tantrum Coromandel > Castle Rock > Quiet Earth Wall
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport 4 pitches
Terror Incognito Waikato & King… > Froggatt's Edge > Main Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Sidewinder Lake Taupo > Kawakawa Bay > Point
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Sport 3 pitches
Monsterpiece Theatre Waikato & King… > Froggatt's Edge > Main Wall
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Prokarstination Waikato & King… > Mangaokewa > Grandstands
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
More Classic Climbs in North Island »

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