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Moving To New Zealand

Original Post
John Howerton · · Auburn, AL · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Hello, everyone

My sister and I are moving to New Zealand this January on a working holiday for at least one year. I am looking to spend every day that I don't have to work (full-time job) climbing and hiking (I also surf, bike, trail run and I'm a yogi). I am addressing this community in the hopes of 1.) determining what city to base out of, 2.) best climbing spots to check out and lastly 3.) communities to get plugged into. I am excited to see what the country has to offer and thankful for the community of climbers willing to offer a little guidance on this adventure. 


Zittydog · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 10

Hey John, 

I grew up in NZ, but it's been a few years since I've lived there. I'd say Christchurch would be  a good option for you given the range of activities you're into. There is excellent trail running and biking (road and MTB)  in the Port Hills that overlook the town. The surfing beaches near town are mediocre, but can be fun, and there is good surfing up the coast in Kiakoura, if you want to drive.Another bonus is that it's only a couple of hours to the mountains, if you are into that. The one thing about Christchurch is that they are still recovering from two severe earthquakes, although I've heard it's still a vibrant scene. 

Dunedin would be another good option. The surfing is great, although the water is cold. The climbing is mediocre around town, but there good options for weekend trips. Also, great riding and running in the hills around town.

I can't speak too much about getting plugged into a community, except to say that in general kiwis are a pretty friendly bunch, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Have fun mate.

Dow Williams · · St. George, Utah; Canmore, AB · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 240

From a pure outdoor perspective, anywhere between Wanaka and Queenstown offers a years worth of new experiences.  Christchurch is way too big a town for me (400,000), but I am about the outdoors 24/7.  It is definitely more urban then the rest of south island  if that is what you seek.  Dunedin is a sleeper, pretty damn cool town I think, less touristy than Queenstown but not centered for all activities the south island has to offer either.

Alice Hadley · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

I was a wee toproper at the time, but I spent a while in Takaka/Golden Bay (which boasts the best weather in NZ) and climbed at Payne's Ford a few times. There's a climbers camp there (Hangdog Camp?) too that rents gear and can help orient you to the area.

GilaShot · · Western Antarctic, New Engl… · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 0

Queenstown is a tourist disaster, but it's close to a few major rivers valleys that provide access to some of the best hiking in the country.  Wanaka is beautiful, located super close to Aspiring (great hiking/climbing), and can be expensive to rent.  Dunedin is a great small city.  Christchurch is close to Arthurs Pass which has plenty of tiger country and is under appreciated.  My vote would be Dunedin or Wanaka.  The northern south island (Golden Bay, Paynes Ford) has great weather and plenty of great climbing/hiking/mountaineering but with less 'serious' terrain in general.

Queenstown has great sport climbing but Wanaka is better and has no approach.  Paynes Ford has nice limestone but it's getting super polished.

Wanaka has a lifetime of sport climbing.  It's my favorite place to climb on Earth.  It's also close to the alpine where you can have great mountain adventures.  The rock in NZ is generally poor and trad climbing is adventurous.  The trad climbing in the Darrans  (far south) is great, but it rains 8-9 meters a year there.

If you end up on the South Island, get yourself a copy of Moir's Guide North along with a good compass and a beacon.  Also look into the NZAC climbing/mountaineering guides.

John Howerton · · Auburn, AL · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks for the advice everyone! I have to get an engineering job for the first four to eight months (at least) and where I get hired will be the deciding factor but, I am sending my resume to  companies in the city's you guys and girls have suggested first and I can not wait to explore all that New Zealand has to offer.

P.S. If anyone is looking for an incredible, hardworking and passionate engineer I promise not to disappoint. 

WillP · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 10

If that's the case, aim for Christchurch. It's still close (relatively) to all the great rock and alpine climbing over there, with some climbing and good trail running and mountain biking in the Port Hills. And they still need help with the rebuilding effort, so your skills might be valued (depending on what kind of engineer you are, that is). Enjoy, it's one of the very best countries in the world. [And I say that as an Australian!]

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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