Panama Rock

(12 routes)

Panama Rock, also known as Kellers Peak, is a large accessible crag in the north-east part of Banks Peninsula. The total area of rock is substantial, but the owners prefer that climbing is restricted to the bolted area on the south-east facing Main Wall.

The crag is on land owned by the Josef Langer Charitable Trust. See for the trust website. Josef Langer was a philanthropist who gifted money to the trust for conservation and educational purposes. The Trust is happy for climbers to climb freely at the crag, but their priority is conservation rather than recreation. Therefore great care must be taken to protect native biodiversity, particularly Banks Peninsula endemic plants which grow on the cliffs, and especially the rare gentian. This small herbaceous plant with pretty white flowers can be found clinging to the cliff adjacent to some of the climbs.

More detail on the native vegetation of the reserve can be found in the attached brochure.

The crag is a one of a number of large trachyte extrusion domes found on the eastern half of Banks Peninsula, which erupted as part of the Akaroa Volcanic Sequence, about 8-9 million years ago, resulting in a coarse-grained, solid, and compact rock that is a joy to climb on. A striking feature is the radial feeder dyke from the Akaroa Volcano, which supplied the magma to the extrusion dome before itself solidifying and forming a solid rock wall stretching from Panama Road up the slope to the crag.

The crag has the typical compact featureless nature of a trachyte dome, with very few cracks or natural protection placements. The original routes were developed before the widespread use of bolts for protection, and involved bold run-outs between widely-separated small diameter bolts or sparsely placed natural protection. Some routes have been retrobolted to provide a “nursery” area for beginner lead climbers, especially educational groups, to learn lead climbing on bolts. These are short climbs with closely-spaced bolts and double bolt anchors.

The Josef Langer Charitable Trust is concerned that developing additional routes will result in native vegetation being cleared from the crag, and has therefore banned the development of new routes.

Climbing on the crag started in 1980, with a couple of poorly protected trad routes. In 1990 Joe Arts and Lindsay Main brought drills to the crag, enabling routes such as The Redemptionists and Centurion to be climbed. However the real development occurred when Doog Menzies established the well-bolted routes with the intention of setting up a training area.

Via Fedel is the left-most of the obvious routes on the Main Wall, with The Redemptionists further left again. The Milk Snatcher is the long route starting in a vegetated groove, and Caesar’s Slab is on the prow to the right.

South East
Walk time: 
10 mins

The crag is on a private conservation reserve owned by the Josef Langer Trust. The Trust is sympathetic to climbing and hopes to see the reserve used for educational as well as recreational uses. The trust requires climbers to confirm access with the NZAC representative in advance of a visit.

Currently the NZAC representative is Francis Streisel, who can be emailed at: fstreisel (at), or texted at 022 035 3669. Bear in mind that the NZAC representatives are outdoor people who spend part of their time out of communication range, and cannot always be contacted. The onus is on climbers to contact the NZAC rep before visiting the crag.

From the Akaroa Summit Road, turn off a kilometre east of the Okains Bay turnoff along Camerons Track. After about 3 km, turn right on to Lavericks Ridge Road, and after 2 km drive past Panama Road junction. Do not turn on to Panama Road - it is very steep and only suitable for 4WD vehicles. Continue along Lavericks Ridge Road for another 800 metres. Park by a gate with the NZAC notice at the saddle overlooking Le Bons Bay. There is a walking track to the crag (on the east side of the summit), marked by two fencing stakes with orange markers. The white stakes go to the summit.

Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
TR The Redemptionists 21 45m
8bolts wire representing trad
Climb to the right-leaning ramp with natural protection and follow the bolts around and up to the steep wall. Climb the headwall past three bolts and some gear. There is a station at the top edge.
Joe Arts, 1990
VF Via Fidel 16 15m
Slab route just right of the vegetated corner. Nice moves to the hidden station on the ledge by the vegetation.
Doog Menzies, 2012.
UH Uncle Helen 13 10m
Easy short slab climb to the station at the change in angle.
Doog Menzies, 2012.
MS The Milk Snatcher 18 22m
A longer, harder route starting at a small vegetated groove. Clip the first bolt right of the groove, and continue up the same line to the anchor at 2/3 height, just right of the vegetation. Very often this route is wet, but even when dry it provides a worthwhile challenge.
Doog Menzies, 2012.
To Play The King 17 10m
A rather trivial link up, starting at The Milk Snatcher. Clip the first two bolts and move up the smeary slab before moving right past the third bolt to the two-ring anchor at the top of Caesar’s Slab.
Lindsay Main, 2016.
Caesar's Slab 14 12m
The start of Centurion, which can be done as a short route in its own right, to an awkwardly positioned station on the right. Cleaned and bolted by Doog Menzies.
Lindsay Main, 1990.
C Centurion 18 40m
Start about two metres left of the toe of the buttress and climb the slab with closely-spaced bolts. From the break the wall steepens and the bolts are more spaced. From the ledge surmount the upper break and follow the crack to the top past a dracophyllum bush.
Lindsay Main, 1990.
Decurion 15 12m
The lower part of the next route has been set up as a sport route by retro-bolting it. There is a chain anchor above the four bolts.
Lindsay Main, 1980..
Journey to Ixtlan 17 40m
4bolts wire representing trad
On the buttress at the right side of the wall. Start by following the bolts on the toe of the buttress with good holds to the horizontal crack (protection). Slightly right and up on jugs. Where the wall steepens move left, up and back right to the obvious exit corner. Spaced protection.
Lindsay Main, 1980.
Original Route 15 28m
wire representing trad
A sinuous groove on the right side of the cliff. Up small slab to a horizontal crack with bulge above. From the crack step left (crux), then up and right following the groove. Spaced protection.
Lindsay Main, 1980.
Mind the Totara 17 20m
wire representing trad
Don't push the bush! Climb left-facing corner to bulge and gain leaning corner. Up low-angled wall past a small totara to the anchor. Sparse natural protection.
Joe Arts, 1990.
A Addendum 16 20m
3bolts wire representing trad
Just left of the detached pillar, up the wall to a scoop, over the steeper bit past the bolts, and on to the arête moving slightly to the right to take advantage of good holds. Move cautiously up to place wires in the crack to the left, then scramble up the ridge to the anchor rings. Three bolts.
Lindsay Main, 1990.


Note change of NZAC representative, and native vegetation brochure attached.