Outside of Auckland Quarry and Ti Point, this is probably the next most climbed crag in the northern region. First checked out by Phil Giles and Noel Herman in the 1970s, it wasn’t till the early 1980s that Ngahere Drive developed into Whangarei’s number one climbing spot. Gavin Cox, Gavin Harrison, Glen Hawke and Rex Withers worked on new lines and a number of challenging boulder problems. The first bolts were tentatively placed, resulting in Lop at the
Top Rocks and Madonna at the Main Crag. The 1990s saw Paul Hersey, Hugh Nicholson, Simon Bruce and later Hamish Pirie add to the new route list, along with introducing more out-of-town climbers to the crag.
Visiting Wellingtonian Neil Parker described the area as a mini Paynes Ford, with steep limestone faces and a sunny location. Some of the rock low down can get mossy in winter, so a brush is a good idea. There is heaps of potential for new routes.
The Island consists of short boulder problems, with nothing recommended. The Top Rocks have a number of quality short climbs of varying difficulty and some testing boulder problems. Please stay on the reserve side of any fences and respect residents’ privacy. The Main Crag has climbs as high as 35m, with a great airy feel on the main face. Descent is by abseil or walk off .
Although the area has recently (2009) been given a cleanup by Ray Dixon and others from Whangarei climbing wall Vertical Playground, no bolts have yet been replaced. All bolts should therefore be treated with extreme caution, and all single bolt belays should be backed up.
Ngahere Drive is within the boundary of Whangarei City and can be reached by taking Maunu Road from the city centre.
To reach the Main Crag, turn left down Hospital Road. Park your vehicle at the end of the road and walk up the private driveway past some houses.
About 150 m up (when you can see the last house) there is a small grass area with a scallop-shaped boulder on your left . Enter the track on the lower side of the boulder, coming out behind and east of Groove Wall.
The track crosses Hector Grant’s property. Permission is not required but please observe the usual courtesies – no rubbish or offensive language please!Climbers should be aware that even though they are climbing in a reserve, the bush directly above the climbs is on private land.
The track that leads over the top of Groove Wall, the Main Face and Starlight Wall is largely onHector Grant’s property. There is a small bridge across a steep bit that is falling apart, use with care.
Mr Grant does not want it repaired. To reach the Island and Top Rocks, continue past the hospital and turn left into Ngahere Drive at the start of Maunu Hill. The Island is on an obvious large traffic island (yes!) part way up the hill. Carry on to a small parking alcove at the top of the hill, where a short track to the Top Rocks leads into the bush on your left (north). Take care to stay on the reserve and out of the private properties that surround it.
There is no water or camping at any of the outcrops.