Kawakawa Bay 2022


Using the power of the jet engine I was transported to the capital city of Wellington for a trip with Craig and Rachel, aka Lieutenant Grump and Captain Plod. The lieutenant picked me up from the airport carparks at Burger King and we raced through the winding streets of the capital for a dessert evening at Plod’s pad. Kieran and Cecile arrived too with Kieran’s trademark apple pie which was chock full of yum.

I worked from Plod’s flat the following day and then off we went in the evening in Craig’s sport car of the 90s, the Nissan Sentra. Many hours later and with the wiggly woos playing their hits we arrived at Kenloch, at the shore of Lake Taupo. We faffed, packed and set off for a walk into Kawakawa Bay. Our packs, full of food, climbing and camping gear were spine crushingly heavy and shortly after 3am we stumbled into Kawakawa Bay, each of us a full 10 cm shorter, to set up camp for the night.


The next four days were a mix of sunshine, rock, sweat, swimming and good times. We were a bit tired on Friday morning but Craig, the energiser bunny, was motivated to climb. We headed out to the point at the far side of the bay crossing under the rock faces above the lake. Grump lead High Hopes, a two pitch 17 in one large pitch. Plod and I seconded it simultaneously on half ropes while Craig belayed from the top with his ATC in the mode of the guide. The rock juts out directly above the lake so you feel even further off the ground as you climb. I was glad I hadn’t lead it. I hung around with Craig at the top while we waited for Rachel and then we all abseiled off. Next up was Mellow Yellow an easy multipitch route. I lead the second and third pitch together as a sport climb from the top of the first pitch. Nice. Hot. By the time we were done, it was already time for a swim in the lake, dinner and a beautiful sunset.

Sunset in the bay (Climbing Kawakawa Bay Jan 2022)
We had a nice spot by the lake for chilling in the evenings.

The following day we started early beginning with Captain Caveman, a great three pitch climb with a funky cave a the end of the first pitch. Craig lead all pitches (because he’s our rope gun) and we seconded. The second pitch ascended through the cave and out a small window in the rock. There were good views back down to the lake below. We waited for Rachel (a common theme in any trip involving Plod) to emerge through the top of the cave. From the anchor at the last pitch we abseiled all the way down to the ground on Craig’s 70m rope using a Bina blocker, canyoning style, and pulled the 60 m half rope from the bottom to retrieve both ropes.


Next up was Reggae Shark. I lead the first pitch, which was a 17. There were a few scrambly moves and then I belayed Craig and Rachel up. Craig lead the remaining pitch. It was a nice juggy one that required a bit of foot work and some strength which I found ideal. We drank Craig’s birthday cider in the afternoon. I then went running in the evening and the others continued climbing. I went for another run the following day while the others climbed. In the afternoon we climbed the first pitch of Jugzilla, a nice juggy one. Then on the following climb, Patrick took a big lead fall which ended the day and sent us all back to camp.


Most people had left by Monday and the weather closed in on us as I lead an easy route out on the point. It improved again later and we climbed at the secret garden. There are a bunch of easy single pitch sport routes there and I enjoyed leading a few and then hanging around the anchor at the top and belaying from there. Later, after returning to the ground after another route, I found my shoes had been defaced by Craig’s birthday mayonnaise that Plod and I had generously gifted him. What sort of thanks is that?! We walked out in the dark and drove South to a campsite on the dessert road.

Mayo anyone (Climbing Kawakawa Bay Jan 2022)
Unfortunately my shoes were defaced with Craig’s birthday Mayo while I was climbing. Craig!


The following day was grey with a bit of rain in the morning but as it seemed to be stable rather than deteriorating we did the canyon right by our campsite. It proved to be not bad at all. We then drove further South and tried another canyon thing of sorts. It was more of a walk through a ravine but it was quite picturesque. Then it was a long drive back to Wellington.


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