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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
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!
The Guide:
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.

POINT (175.195971 -38.357676)

Mangaokewa is currently CLOSED. Please do not climb.
The town of Te Kuiti is 1hr south of Hamilton on State Highway 3. From Te
Kuiti, head south on State Highway 30 (by the large statue of a sheep shearer)
towards Taupo for 2km. After cresting the first big hill, the turn-off is located on
the left-hand side and is sign posted "Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve" with both
a large wooden sign and a small yellow sign on the opposite side of the road. If
you are coming up highway 30 from the direction of Taupo, do not be confused
and drive down Mangaokewa Road as that this does not lead to the cliff at all.
After turning into the reserve, drive down the hill to the carpark/camping area.
The best access to the crag is by crossing the swing bridge and following the
track to the right. Within 5 meters, there is a smaller track which cuts left up the
hill. Take this left for only a few meters until a "climber track" appears on the
right (marked with two piles of stones). This track treads up the hill diagonally
to the right and will bring you directly up to the Colosseum.
Dos, Don'ts and Disclaimers
This crag is located on council land so it is not necessary to obtain permission
to climbing. The area is frequented by multiple user groups, so please be
respectful of everyone else's reasons for being there so we don't botch our
access. Project Manu has spent a lot of time getting the reserve to the state it
is in now, including operating a trapping project from August through until
November each year.
To avoid the possible closure of the crag:
Pack out everything you pack in. This ESPECIALLY applies to all food material,
including apple cores and banana peels because we do not want to encourage
vermin at the crag.
1. Leave Rata vines alone. It takes years for them to grow and it adds to the
beauty of the cliff.
2. Leave live stalactites alone. If "stals" are grey and fuzzy, they are still
growing and we would prefer them to STAY growing. Please take this into
consideration if you are planning to put up a new line near one. It is better
to leave them alone if you have ANY doubt.
3. Don't disturb any existing trail markers, bait stations, traps etc. These
belong to Project Manu.
4. If you are developing, trundle "unsafe" blocks EARLY in the morning.
Experience has already shown that big blocks can and DO roll all the way
down the hill and no one likes being bombed with boulders from above! It is
imperitive that blocks are not moved when people could be walking along
the river track below.
5. NOTHING left on the crag is booty! There are many projects that have
draws left on them, plenty of fixed lines on "soon to be" projects, and a
number of the routes have been equipt with permanent draws for
EVERYONE'S convenience. Anyone caught stealing kit from the crag will
be subject to being hung by their toenails from the viaduct!!
6. Development is restricted to the currently developed areas, from the far
left end of the "Parking Lot Wall" all the way to the "Bat Cave," but no
further right.
Lastly, this is rock climbing folks. While the people involved in developing the
crag to-date have endeavored to make the climbing experience here as safe as
possible, rocks can still fall off, bolts can still fail, belayers can still "oops,"
ropes can get cut on sharp edges, etc. The long and the short of it is be careful
out there. The developers of this crag, the author and distributer of this guide,
the council that own the reserve, the Manu group that maintain it and/or anyone
else involved with the reserve take no responsibility for accidents that occur
there. No fixed gear is guaranteed. You are there at your own risk.

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Attribution hosted by Cliff Ellery. Written by Matt Natti.