Dragon Crags

(55 routes)

Dragon Crags is the new name applied to the collection of trachyte cliffs and buttresses to the east of the main Devils Gap cliff. This area has been separated into its own crag area because of the number of routes now established and the distinctive style of the area.

The main cliff faces north-east so it is hot on a sunny afternoon, and dries well after rain. However the area is exposed to winds from various directions and calm days are preferable. Because the crags are downhill somewhat, there is some shelter from nor-westers.

This crag has a very long but sketchy and poorly documented history of development, going back to the early 1970s. In those days there was minimal gorse, so access to the area was much easier, but the lack of bolting technology limited development.

The first route documented was a 60 metre climb on the Dragon's Tail by John Madgwick in 1991; however the vigorous growth of gorse restricted later activities to more accessible walls. Matt Squires established the first two routes on Karaka Wall in 2005, and Gabriel Lincourt added two hard routes on Karaka and Bobo Wall in 2007. It wasn’t until 2018 that track-cutting started in earnest, and the Dragon's Tail and nearby areas became accessible. Many routes were bolted and climbed in the next few months. The first team in action was Hugh Logan, Joe Arts, and Lindsay Main, assisted at times by Hamish Castle, Marcus Arts, George Gerard, and Felix Collins. During spring 2018 they developed the Dragon's Tail,and in summer moved on to the multi-pitch routes to the right. Meanwhile another team spearheaded by Warrick Matheson and Doug Atkinson started developing the Upper Pillars area, and also Bobo Wall.

The rock is an unusual rhyolitic form of trachyte, the remnant of a large extrusion dome of the Akaroa volcano. It is generally clean and very grippy, varying between very featured walls and bare slabs. There are few cracks, so most routes are fully bolted. Caves formed by gas bubbles are common and can be quite large, and “egg-shell” structures of wafer-thin rock are sometimes found. Anchor stations are provided to enable single-rope abseils with a 60-metre rope.

North East
BY24 858 475
Walk time: 
30 min



Access until August 2022 will be intermittent because of a major goat eradication programme taking place on this and other nearby farms, and will close after Anzac weekend.

It is not uncommon for farming activities to require the farm to be closed to the public. This may occur because of lambing, stock movements, helicopter spraying, or other reasons.

Approach routes
Drive toward Little River and turn off to the east just before the town, on Kinloch Road, continuing uphill to the south to join Bossu Road. Drive 2 km east and turn south again on Gap Road toward Robin Hood Bay. The best parking is just before a gate near the pine trees. Walk along the road 100 metres to another gate with an NZAC sign and track. Walk south along the track and on to the main ridge wit a view to Peraki Valley. The Gap itself is to the south, with the farm track running through it.

There are two approach routes. The upper track crosses the main ridge and follows the farm track to the Gap. The Red Slab is adjacent to the Gap on the left, with the other crags downhill along the ridge to the east. (The cliff on the right side of The Gap is the East Cliff of Devils Gap). At the Gap cross the fence and head south and then east up and over the rocky ridge; then following the rough track down the ridge to the top of Karaka Wall and then Bobo Wall below Karaka Wall. However, the track departs the ridge to the south (right-hand side) about 15m before you reach Karaka Wall, and descends steeply through the gorse and scrub to the south end of Bobo Wall. It traverses below Bobo Wall toward the ridge, meeting the south end of Gaga Wall, the lowest of the three walls cutting across the ridge, where a side track leads off to the ridge and then down the north side for access to the Upper Pillars, before descending steeply again for about 150 metres to the Dragon's Tail. From a flat area it is possible to scramble up to the col beside the Dragon's Tail summit, or to the top of the Little Pillar. The main track continues down and rightward before cutting across and then down below the Dragon's Tail, where it meets the lower track.

Note that this is very steep terrain and good footwear is essential.

The lower track is marked with steel fence posts and blue tubing. It takes a farm track that goes eastward from the ridge to a fence. Do not open the gate: climb the stile on the left, and follow the track leading gradually down the slope. Past an area of gorse and kanuka that has been sprayed, drop down through the paddock to a branch track below that cuts back to the west, and then swings south toward the crags. This old overgrown farm track runs level to a small clearing, and then a foot track ascends through the gorse and scrub to the lower buttresses.

The main track goes past the start of The Road to Perdition in the Multi-pitch area, with a side track leading off from an area of bush to Pioneer Ridge on the right. The track continues past the base of the Baby Buttress, across a small gap, and up to the base of the Dragon's Tail. A side track goes steeply up to the right to The Gully area and the top of the Baby Buttress.

Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
The Integral 14,18,15,16,17,6,15 192m
24bolts wire representing trad
It is possible to climb from the base of the Dragons Tail right up the main ridge, taking in various pitches from different walls en route. Though there are many possible variations, the “classic” combination described here starts up On The Edge and continues up the climbs closest to the main ridge. The first Integral, in July 2019, took in a couple of bonus pitches, A Litany of Woe and Jungle Jim on Bobo Wall, instead of the more obvious and direct unroped pitch, Easy Way Home. Among other options one of the multi-pitch routes could be climbed, before continuing up climbs on Split Buttress and Gaga, Bobo, and Karaka Walls. Depending on the combination, the total integral will include between six and ten pitches and one or two sections of scrambling.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

On The Edge Start at the lowest point of the Dragons Tail and climb leftward and up. Can be split into two pitches. Then abseil to the base of Deceitful Doris..


Deceitful Doris Does the Dirty Climb the prominent rib with one large cam to the ledge; then either up the crack with gear or follow the bolts further left.


Gorseless Short pitch on the ridge.


Failed Trad Climber On the Split Buttress, just left of the ridge with a faint crack. This is followed by a scrambling section up to Gaga Wall.


The Hollow Man On Gaga Wall, just right of the ridge, beside a damp section of rock.


Easy Way Home Bypassing Bobo Wall, this is a series of scrambling moves which can be readily climbed unroped. The highlight is the optional cheval section.


Karaka Obvious classic left-leaning crack. If gear is not carried, Critical Mass can be climbed instead.

Lindsay Main, 2019.


Type Title Link to edit content
Wall The Red Slab (4 routes)
Wall Karaka Wall (4 routes)
Wall Bobo Wall (7 routes)
Wall Upper Walls (4 routes)
Wall Gaga Wall (5 routes)
Wall Upper Pillars (7 routes)
Wall Multi-pitch routes (5 routes)
Wall The Gully (4 routes)
Wall Baby Buttress (2 routes)
Wall Dragon's Tail (10 routes)
Wall Little Pillar (1 route)
Wall Lower slabs (1 route)


Just chatted to Giles and unfortunately there is ongoing problems with climbers leaving gates open etc, so he is not allowing climbers onto the crag.
He may reconsider his position next year....
What a loss to Christchurch climbers due to the actions of a few muppets....

Dragon crag update 12/7/2020