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.
The limestone rock that has been eroded by wind and water is shaped in a smooth, potted way that looks foreign to earth.
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.
The next day was full on. We climbed in the morning at Cave Stream and then headed over to Castle Hill.
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.
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.
During the day we met an America couple and we ended up climbing with them for a few hours.
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.