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Mihiwaka

Type
Altitude
520m

Mihiwaka is a gem of a crag, nestled among native bush in a prime position overlooking Careys Bay. It was formed in a later volcanic eruption than Long Beach, and its phonolite provides climbing of a different character to nearby Long Beach’s Kaiwekiti Basalt. Calum Hudson first climbed there in 1972, and returned over the next six years to develop most of the routes, with cameo appearances by another three of the country’s most influential 1970s climbers, Rick McGregor, Murray Jones and Murray Judge. Calum writes:
‘Rumour had it that Mihiwaka was very loose and steep and that one would require a stepladder to start most of the climbs. One day in ’72 myself with Rob Turner, Bryan Laws and Dave Begg decided to investigate, and discovered a hidden treasure. We didn’t climb there that day but carried on to Long Beach. A short while later Bruce Clarke, Russ Mercier and Ken Calder climbed Deep Wide and Frequent and I followed shortly after with Phil Herron and Eugenie Ombler to embark on the longest lead of my life at the time, creating Living in the Past, and then all hell broke loose...’
The only new routes to be climbed in the following 20 years are Luke Newnham’s eliminate Under the Volcano, and Dave Brash’s route on the steep wall and prow left of Top Cat. Unwilling to place the first bolt at Mihiwaka, he stuck his neck out on the unfashionably serious Pasta la Pizza. Call me old-fashioned, but it would be nice if this crag remained a bolt-free monument to the 1970s ‘clean climbing’ movement.
After many years with few visitors, Mihiwaka is justifiably experiencing a minor renaissance. Its easier climbs generally offer better quality and protection for aspiring trad leaders than Long Beach. A rack of medium to large gear with heaps of slings (save some for the manuka tree belays at the top) will see you up most of the climbs. In keeping with the 1970s ambience, this is hex country. Another archaic custom – girdle traverses – are a must at this crag.
Pro is good unless mentioned otherwise in the route descriptions. The top is easy to access from the right side of the crag. The climate is damper, more frigid and exposed than Long Beach, and the east facing crag loses the sun in the afternoon, but it is reasonably protected from south/southwest winds. Northeasterly? Forget it!

Image
Walktime
15 min
Aspect
East
Lat/lon
POINT (170.60434288 -45.78848371)
Topo50
CE17 138 267
Access

The high point of the road to Long Beach sidles around Mihiwaka 17 km from Dunedin. About 300m before the Blueskin Rd turnoff to Waitati, park at the obvious carpark and follow the track uphill from the No. 21 orange culvert marker through beautiful native bush. When in doubt, trend right – many have bush-bashed directly up to the left-hand edge of the crag after missing a bend in the track. The track comes out at Deep, Wide and Frequent. Easy access to the top of the crag is gained to the right.

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Routes

Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
1 1Jung and the Restless, 15 15 30m
0

  • P1
  • 15
  • 30m
  • Trad

Arete on the far L of the cliff. Finish on L angled crack.


2 2Uneasy Rider, 18 18 30m
2.01

  • P1
  • 18
  • 30m
  • Trad

Great bridging up to the welcome mega-jug. Start at the prominent R facing corner - best belay is at the broadleaf tree 4m above ground level. Pro is a bit sparse at the crux - take small wires.


3 3Deliverance, 15 15 30m
1.02

  • P1
  • 15
  • 30m
  • Trad

From the broadleaf tree, move up the wall diagonally R and finish just left of the arete. Good pro higher up in the interesting creases. Has a direct start at about 17 just left of the real steep country of Photogenic Doubt and Pasta la Pizza.


4 4Photogenic Doubt, 20 20 10m
0

  • P1
  • 20
  • 10m
  • Trad

From the pedestal between Deliverance and Top Cat, and just to the R of a deep R facing diagonal corner crack, climb the slightly overhanging wall to the horizontal break under the roof (good pro here), then traverse L to rib (runout) and finish up Deliverance.


5 5Pasta la Pizza, 22 22 30m
1.02

  • P1
  • 22
  • 30m
  • Trad

Steep, technical and serious – the cowardly first ascentionist didn’t lead this until he had it fully wired on top-rope. Great climbing – top-rope it if you don’t want to stick your neck out. Climb Photogenic Doubt to horizontal break, then traverse R. Resisting the overwhelming desire to escape into Top Cat, head L into the ear above the overhang - don’t fall off now! Excellent pro for the rest of the route direct up the steep prow.


6 6Top Cat, 14 14 30m
0

  • P1
  • 14
  • 30m
  • Trad

Start up Living in the Past, then move L into R facing corner. Finish at the top of Deliverance (original finish), or move R under the block to join the top of LITP (6a) at about grade 15.


7 7Feminist’s Folly, 18 18 15m
0

  • P1
  • 18
  • 15m
  • Trad

The eliminate up the wall between Top Cat and Living in the Past finishes direct up the prominent nose.


8 8Living in the Past, 13 13 30
1.02

  • P1
  • 13
  • 30
  • Trad

The second route on the crag. The full-on climbing through the bulge onto the big ledge relents to a nice bridging corner. Step L when the corner fades out and scramble a further 8m to belay from manukas. The corner is a drainage line which can take some time to dry out after rain.


9 9Devil in the Woods, 18 18 9m
1.02

  • P1
  • 18
  • 9m
  • Trad

From the block, up short mossy leaning crack to nervously hand traverse L on overhanging ground to Living in the Past.


10 10King Crimson, 18 18 8m
0

  • P1
  • 18
  • 8m
  • Trad

Calum’s comment – ‘Is this contrived or what? Can’t actually have any climbing of its own !!’ Start as for the Devil in the Woods, then move R across to Aqualung.


11 11Aqualung, 17 17 30m
3

  • P1
  • 17
  • 30m
  • Trad

Arguably the climb of the crag - consistently good climbing to the adrenaline-inducing (though well-protected) crux. The original start goes Comici-style direct to the base of the hanging corner above the Mandrake ramp. A nice alternative is diagonally up R (11a) from the top of the big detached block. After arranging your runners and your head, launch out into the exposed hanging corner above the roof – it’s not all over once you get into it.


12 12Cyclops, 16 16 30m
0

  • P1
  • 16
  • 30m
  • Trad

Could be quite good – I can’t remember. This route starts similar to Aqualung, trends L and up wall through diagonal slot under L end of roofs beneath Mandrake (crux) to join Living in the Past, then step R up steep head wall onto ledge of Mandrake to share its finish.


13 13Drop out Boogie, 14 14 30m
0

  • P1
  • 14
  • 30m
  • Trad

Across face from Deep Wide and Frequent to Living in the Past.


14 14Deep Wide and Frequent, 13 13 30m
2.01

  • P1
  • 13
  • 30m
  • Trad

A grade 13 that overhangs for 20 metres? An excellent adventure for the grade. Originally started further L, the best start is up the wide crack past the chockstone (as for Mandrake). For the two stars (and better pro), climb diagonally R up the upper wall to finish as for Transmag. Watch out for rope drag on this wandering excursion.


15 15Mandrake, 15 15 40m
1.02

  • P1
  • 15
  • 40m
  • Trad

Hudson – ‘A superlative route !!! My favourite anyway’. Best split into 2 pitches. The left diagonal ramp slashes the main wall at mid height and provides access to the great roof climbs of Aqualung, Bwana Dik, and Bomb Bay.


16 16Bomb Bay, 16 16 10m
1.02

  • P1
  • 16
  • 10m
  • Trad

The fearsome flaring slot is in a brilliant position. From the Mandrake ramp, climb with trepidation through the top roof with wide crack and jugs.


17 17Bwana Dik, 19 19 10m
1.02

  • P1
  • 19
  • 10m
  • Trad

The groove through the roof between Bomb Bay and Aqualung starts from Mandrake ramp. Protect in Bomb Bay, then go for it, a little boldness is required.


18 18Under the Volcano, 20 20 20m
0

  • P1
  • 20
  • 20m
  • Trad

Eliminate through bulges between Deep Wide and Frequent and Transmag.


19 19Transmagnificantupantransiality, 16 16 30m
2.01

  • P1
  • 16
  • 30m
  • Trad

You could do this route in one pitch, but then you’d miss out on the great belay ledge. Pitch1 (16) - Start from Deep Wide and Frequent (better) or Stray Cat (19a). Sustained climbing up to and through roof (crux) to a commodious belay ledge.


  • P2
  • 13
  • Trad

Pitch 2 (13) - Steep start to the easy L leaning ramp.


20 20Paraplegic Wall, 18 18 10m
0

  • P1
  • 18
  • 10m
  • Trad

Well, the pro doesn’t look too bad to me, but let’s call it marginal. Climb the wall above Transmag ledge.


21 21Stray Cat, 13 13 28m
0

  • P1
  • 13
  • 28m
  • Trad

Follow crack out R of Transmag roof to a few steep wall moves (crux), and a botanical finish.


22 22Old Fashioned Way, 10 10
0

  • P1
  • 10
  • Trad

From here, the routes are mostly damp and heavily mossed up, and are recorded mainly as a historical service.


23 23Roots, Shoots and Leaves, 16 16
0

  • P1
  • 16
  • Trad

24 24Furga Burga Wall, 20 20
0

  • P1
  • 20
  • Trad

‘An excellent, technical, overhanging wall route – worth a star’ - Hudson.


25 25Tarby’s Wall, 14 14
0

  • P1
  • 14
  • Trad


26 26Grown So Ugly, 15 15
0

  • P1
  • 15
  • Trad


27 27Elvis Presley Memorial Crack
0
28 28Mosse Fosse, 13 13
0

  • P1
  • 13
  • Trad

 Fido Meets Lady Jane, 18 18
0

  • P1
  • 18
  • Trad

A 70’s crag would be incomplete without girdle traverses, so here they are. The high traverse is - Traverses the wall beneath Mandrake between the roofs, down climbs the headwall of Cyclops, traverses the nose of Feminists Folly, crosses the top of Deliverance, hand traverses L and up the finishing corner of Uneasy Rider!!


 Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, 16 16
0

  • P1
  • 16
  • Trad

And the low girdle – Climb Mandrake to the ledge above the chockstone at 5m; traverse L, crossing Top Cat at the big flake to join Deliverance at the lower exposed section before crossing slab and groove to Jung and the Restless.


Images

Comments
Attribution
Dave Brash. Plus the following people supplied route information and/or read drafts: Calum Hudson, Steve Carr, Murray Judge, Marcus Thomas, Kevin Donoghue, Mike Simpson, Andy MacDonald, Simon Cox, Al Mark, Andy Milne, Bob Cunninghame and Laurie Kennedy.
UUID
 
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