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.


Ari visits-25-Climbing near Wanaka

The rain had stopped and the sun was starting to come out. We drove back into Wanaka and ate pies at the lake shore and then followed the road around the side to Hospital Flat where we parked amongst the tourists. We did two easy climbs at the main cliff. Then we crossed the road and a paddock to another wall up on the side of a hill amongst a bit of bush and bracken. We climbed an easy route followed by a more interesting one, made more interesting by the variety of moves and different hand holds.

We ate lunch at the side of Lake Wanaka and later in the afternoon we drove to Kidds Bush stopping along the way to take photos of the expanse of blue water that is Lake Hawea. We set up camp near the side of the lake and went for a short walk.

View across Lake Wanaka (Ari visits 2020)View of climbing crag (Ari visits 2020)Ari after abseiling (Ari visits 2020)View along Lake Hawea towards Kidds Bush (Ari visits 2020)Ari and tent at Kidds Bush (Ari visits 2020)Lake Hawea by night (Ari visits 2020)Ari inside the tent (Ari visits 2020)

1) After checking out of our Air BnB we drove to Wanaka and bought some fatty pastries for breakfast. We ate them by the lake shore. This is the view across the lake.

2) We went climbing at Hospital Flat near Wanaka.

3) We did a few easy climbs on both sides of the road.

4) After climbing, in the evening, we drove along the side of Lake Hawea to Kidds Bush where we stopped to camp the night.

5) We pitched the tent on a bank above the lake away from most of the campers. It was very busy but we had a spot that was more secluded.

6) The sun set.

7) We got ready for bed.

Ari visits-18-22-Climbing in Christchurch

Day 18

It was overcast in the morning and it began to rain as we drove South. We stopped at the hot pools in Hanmer for a swim before driving back to Christchurch.

Maruia falls (Ari visits 2020)

Above: We stopped at Maruia falls on the way down for a quick look.

Dinner (Ari visits 2020)

Above: Dinner at Holly’s house.

Day 19

We had a lazy day for most of the day but did a few climbs at Albert Tce in the evening after drinking delicious hot chocolate and eating muffins and chocolate cake at Coffee Culture.

Ari (Ari visits 2020)Delicious cafe treats (Ari visits 2020)Climbing at Albert Tce (Ari visits 2020)

1) We spent some time relaxing in Christchurch after arriving back. The weather forecast was bad so we spent longer than originally planned back in Christchurch.

2) Delicious cafe treats.

3) We went climbing at Albert Tce again.

Day 20

We went climbing at Cattlestop Crag and got some treats from the coffee shop in the evening.

Climbing at cattle stop crag (Ari visits 2020)

Above: We went climbing at Cattle Stop crag.

Day 21

We didn’t do a whole lot. The weather was a bit average. I ended up going for a very short run around sugar loaf while Ari went walking.

Tasty treats (Ari visits 2020)

Above: Tasty snacks for Holly’s Birthday brunch.

Holly celebrates her Birthday (Ari visits 2020)

Above: Celebrating Holly’s Birthday.

Day 22

It was a warm morning. We did two tricky climbs at Bivy rock. I really enjoyed the second one as it had nice moves but still quite good hand holds.

We drove to Purau after climbing and met the family there. It was super hot by this stage and we went for a short kayak. The water was fine for swimming and I cooled off in it before we ate our picnic lunch in the shade.

We decided to take an adventurous route back and drove Port Levy by the small road. From there we continued to Pigeon bay by the unsealed road and on up to the Summit Road. We drove back to Christchurch via Little River.

Ari abseiling (Ari visits 2020)Ari kayaking in the harbour (Ari visits 2020)Ari with Akaroa harbour behind (Ari visits 2020)

1) We climbed at Bivvy Rock and I lead a really nice 19. This wasn’t it. This was the grovely 18 to the left. This climb had not very nice holds the other one had much better holds!

2) We met the family at Purau and went kayaking there. It was one of those meltingly hot summer days.

3) Then Ari and I decided to head back via the peninsula. We drove to Pigeon Bay and then up to the Summit Road. I’d never been along the road before so it was interesting to see. We continued back to Christchurch in the evening.