Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Wasn't planning on doing another blog entry today, but got a really good internet connection and credit that has to be used before 17th Jan, so have the luxury of not having to worry!

We're in a place called Wanaka, which is in the South of the South Island,  near Fiordland and, along with Queenstown is the action place in NZ. They do everything here! Bungy jumping and jetboating started here and they are well known for every kind of adrenalin action available, but of course, it all comes at a price!

The clay cliffs
Inside the clay cliffs
On the way here we stopped off to look at some clay cliffs we'd been told about. They are a strange geological phenomenon, originally laid down by sedimentary deposit and then uplifted by earthquakes to reveal a cathedral like set of columns. We walked inside and they towered up above us, possibly being as high as 40 or 50m, just made of clay with large pebbles embedded in them. How safe it was I don't know, I just wouldn't want to be around in an earthquake or after or during heavy rain, you could pull off chunks easily in your hand!

Yesterday and today we've been climbing in the locality at some really nice crags. Yesterday we climbed at a roadside crag and met a French couple working out here, he is a paraglider instructor but is unable to work as he can't get to work! He works on the Treble Cone ski area (no snow now of course), but the recent flooding has washed away a bridge, closing off the whole area. Its just along the road from where we are, maybe 10km. Last night we stayed at a campsite right by Lake Wanaka and found the water level lapping round the edge of the campsite, on the way in the road dropped to lake level and it was no more than 300mm below road level. Not sure what the level normally is, but we can see trees poking out of the lake, so that's not normal! My guess is its at least 4 metres higher than normal.
Wanaka Lake looking out to the Triple Cone ski area, from the top of Mount Iron
A NZ Magpie, slightly different from UK
Today we again went back to the same area, picked out a crag we wanted to go to from the book we bought and off we set across the fields. We were no-where near the crag, but found some other crags, with bolted routes on and decided to give those a go. We could find no descriptions in our book, but they looked OK, the first two were easy'ish, then we did a quite committing route up over a small overhang that worked really well, then Jackie led a fourth route that she thought was going to be easy - in fact the section over the first 3 bolts was, but then it got really interesting and when I led it afterwards it was a really exposed route with small but positive holds and we both thought it a great route. Definitely has three stars from us and possibly a grade 17 (about French 6a). A first class day!

A pretty bird we saw, no idea what it is - John McCowan will know!
Tomorrow I want to go walking (and I think I've talked Jackie into it), we've got two routes in mind, Roy's Peak, which is a 6-8 hour round trip graded 'hard' and includes what looks a great ridge walk (you can see a bit of it on the LHS of the Wanaka Lake picture above). The other is Rob Roy's glacier, which is 3-4 hours, but and hour's drive there, not on the same day obviously! Probably means we'll need to stay another day as I know Jackie wants to go climbing again at least for part of a day. The only problem is we've been told its going to rain tomorrow, so fingers crossed it doesn't!

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