Castle Hill, Bouldering

Looking down on Castle Hill from Withering Heights

Looking down on Castle Hill from Withering Heights. The boulder in the fore ground is sacred to the Maori

Castle Hill Boulder Field

As Dan and I planned the time that he would be here, he made it very clear that a big reason he was coming over was to visit a famous rock climbing area on the south island. This area is called Castle Hill and is one of the best places in the world to boulder rock climb.

After camping in the south in the Catlins, and the Milford Track, then driving up the west coast of the south island, we headed east through magnificent Arthur’s Pass.  Once through the mountains, we entered the high desert area around Castle Hill.  It is a unique area in the world for bouldering as it has a grassy carpet throughout the boulder fields.

View from Spittle Hill, within the Castle Hill complex

Massive 300 foot eroded limestone cliffs stand like sentry around the park.

Massive 300 foot eroded limestone cliffs stand like sentries around the park.

Path Into Castle Hill Conservation Area

Path Into Castle Hill Conservation Area

Red Tuff Grass and Limestone Boulder

Red Tuff Grass and Limestone Boulder

Boulder Stack

Boulder Stack

The limestone rock that has been eroded by wind and water is shaped in a  smooth, potted way that looks foreign to earth.

Castle Walls

Castle Walls

To climb here, all you need to do is show up.  The land has been donated to the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) and has been turned into a park for all to enjoy.

We were able to rent crash pads at a near by town about 25 K away, and camped at a near by campsite about 7 k away from the main boulder fields of Castle Hill called Craigieburn Recreation Area.

Dan brought over an extra set of climbing shoes, and a chalk bag for me.  He also bought a climbing guide.  We were all set to climb.

The day we picked up the pads we weren’t able to get to the boulders until late afternoon and decided to warm up in an adjacent boulder field called cave stream.  We did a few climbs and headed back to the camp site.

Hiking into cave stream for first climbs

Hiking into cave stream for first climbs

Dan reading the climbing guide figuring out where we were, where the good climbing boulders are and the routes to take up them.

Dan reading the climbing guide figuring out where we were, where the good climbing boulders are and the routes to take up them.

Dan's First Climb

My First Complete Climb

My First Complete Climb

hiking back from cave stream

hiking back from cave stream

Sunset View From Campsite

The next day was full on.  We climbed in the morning at Cave Stream and then headed over to Castle Hill.

Climbing Temple Boulder

Climbing Temple Boulder at Cave Steream

Dan On Temple Boulder

Dan On Temple Boulder at Cave Stream

Dan Heel Hook at Cave Stream

Dan Heel Hook at Cave Stream

Hiking to Spittle Hill which is part of the Castle Hill area.

Hiking to Spittle Hill which is part of the Castle Hill area.

Dan

Dan

Phil

Phil

Phil on top of boulder

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Spiderman Dan

Spiderman Dan

Done

I have never really rock climbed before and I can say that my muscles, hands, fingers and toes were no where ready for the onslaught that I put them through.

Near the end of the day, we decided to head up to the hill top behind Castle Hill.  From here you can get great views of Castle Hill and the surrounding area.  There are also several very good climbing boulders here, and one boulder that the Maouri consider sacred.

Boulders and Flowers

These flowers are unique to the world and only grow around Castle Hill

View from Withering Hieghts

View from Withering Heights of surrounding mountains

Phil on top of Withering Heights

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Ronin

This is one of the more famous boulders at the Castle Hill area. It's called Ronin

Dan on Ronin

Dan measuring up Ronin

Dan Climbing

Withering Heights Climb

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We named this boulder Big Bear

Big Bear

Phil on Big Bear

Phil Climbing on Withering Heights

On the way back down from Withering we walked past a small section of desert

By the last day of our climbing, my arms where fatigued beyond the point of lifting myself.  My finger pads where gone, and bleeding.  Most of the skin on my arms was gone, and my toes where bruised.  It was great fun.

We headed back to the camp site, and I swear I couldn’t lift my arms.  Cooking was almost impossible.  Getting into bed was even tough.  We both ate quick and crashed out hard.

The next day I was junk, but Dan was back on it.

Dan on Submarine Boulder

Up

and up

Done

During the day we met an America couple and we ended up climbing with them for a few hours.

Climbing with New Friends

That was basically out trip to Castle Hill and my first climbing experience.  Pretty great.  On the way out I took some pictures of the surrounding area, its an amazing place.

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One response to “Castle Hill, Bouldering

  1. Daniel Fallon

    What an epic place! The pics, as good as they are, just don’t do it justice. Wish I was still there! Thanks for making it epic Phil!

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