THIS CRAG IS CURRENTLY CLOSED
Please do not climb at Mangaokewa until further notice. Negotiations are under way with DOC and Iwi, climbing while the crag is closed will jeopardise any possible future access. Thank you.
Come Sample the Steepness!!!
The climbing potential for this gem of a crag was first discovered due to rain.
Ryan von Haeseley, an ex-pat turned Waitomo local, had moved to the
Waikato from Wellington in order to be closer to good rock. He was not let
down. Most of the King Country is riddled with limestone outcrops, from the
bouldering at the "Airstrip" to the multi-pitch trad and sport lines of Mangaotaki.
What he didn't count on was the rainy west coast weather...
One rainy morning he woke up and decided he had had enough. It was time to
find a dry place to climb. He wasn't too picky; his ideal situation would be to
find a crag that was steep enough to keep off the rain, had cool features to play
on, had someplace nearby to camp, had running water and toilets, and could
offer a little bit for both boulderers and ropeguns alike. He grabbed a few maps
of the region and started patching together locations that looked suitable,
hopped in his car and headed off. He found what he was looking for...and a
whole lot more.
The limestone bluffs of the Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve are less than a 5
minute drive from Te Kuiti. This means that climbers can easily pick up
supplies and a good feed at the end of a day on the rock. The reserve also
offers free camping, flush toilets, BBQ pits and a river (complete with
waterfalls). Due to the overhanging nature of much of the rock, climbing here is
not hampered by bad weather. In fact, because the cliffs are broken up into two
distinct tiers (the upper tier being more consistently overhung) it is possible to
play on easy vertical and slab climbs on the first tier because most of them
are protected from rain by the cliffs above. Many of the shorter overhangs offer
excellent, all-weather bouldering potential as well. Most enticing to climbers is
the abundance of dead stalactites to play on, hanging from many of the roof
lines...some of them look as if they were out of an international climbing
Word of the "North Island's Payne's Ford" spread quickly and Ryan soon had a
fair bit of help to develop the crag. The likes of Matt Natti, Tom Johns, Kaitlin
O'Reilly and Dan Head quickly became regulars at the cliff. Tom, on top of
being a new routing machine, sorted out access issues with the help of local
climber/caver Ollie Polson. Matt took on the daunting task of building a "user
friendly" track up to the cliff and lots of others simply hopped on the
development bandwagon, scrubbing and bolting to get enough climbs
established to warrant a guide. As word continued to spread and routes
continued to go up the popularity of the crag, both for climbers and developers,
continued growing rapidly. The fact that within the first three months of the crag
being discovered over 30 routes had already been established is astounding.
Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for this extraordinary climbing venue.
The rock is limestone and generally solid, featured. Being a new crag which
has had little traffic there are a few sections which may have some loose rock.
Helmets are recommended especially when belaying. It should also be
mentioned that there are sections of a softer, sandstone type rock (as seen
between the two tiers of the colesseum) which is quite unstable. All that being
said.... most route development has involved the removal of as much "bad"
rock as possible so get out there and enjoy the routes!
All routes listed in Δ in this guide have been tagged to make figuring out where
you actually are a bit easier. The routes are listed from left to right for each
This guide is also using a 3 star system for routes, though so far they are all
quality! (DBB)= Double Bolt Belay (LO)= Lower off.