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!
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.
|1||Jung and the Restless||15||30m|
|5||Pasta la Pizza||22||30m|
|8||Living in the Past||13||30|
|9||Devil in the Woods||18||9m|
|13||Drop out Boogie||14||30m|
|14||Deep Wide and Frequent||13||30m|
|18||Under the Volcano||20||20m|
|22||Old Fashioned Way||10|
|23||Roots, Shoots and Leaves||16|
|24||Furga Burga Wall||20|
|26||Grown So Ugly||15|
|27||Elvis Presley Memorial Crack|
|Fido Meets Lady Jane||18|
|Brown Shoes Don’t Make It||16|