17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
I'm heading to Mt Cook region in early Jan. Depends how you gauge easy-moderate, but check out the Ball Pass trek, Mueller Hut/Sealy Range, Sefton Bivy. All involve some steep bits though, the later two being the least committing/easier. Otherwise you can just hike up the Hooker or Tasman glaciers for a more gentle outing.
There is also rock climbing near Mt Cook Village at Sebastapol Bluffs, which I think is mostly bolted and mid graded so minimal rack required.
Around Queenstown the best crag by a country mile is Wye creek. Some of the rock is excellent and quite interesing to climb on and there is a lot to do in the high teen- mid 20 range. You can camp for free in the paddock just inside the gate but would need a tent, the crag starts about 15min walk up the hill with the best area accessed by walking across a waterfall then on top of a aqueduct. Great views over Lake Wakitipu. Other good stuff in the area is the ridge traverse of the Remarkables or a jaunt up Single Cone, though very weather dependent and can be very alpine even in January (ie iceaxe +/- full mountaineering gear needed). Some multipitch rock routes
For 1-2 day walks, avoiding the crowded huts on the "great walks":
from the Remarkable ski field across the saddle and down into Wye Creek valley. This should take 2 comfortable days and there are bivy caves, or you can just walk up from Wye Creek and return the same way.
There are also some interesting walks around Arrowtown that follow old mining roads and visit remote mining ruins that you can do overnight
Apparently the day walk to Ben Lomond is also quite good. (up behind Queenstown)
From Kingston you can access the range above, seen south from Queenstown over the lake (Mt Cedric) and there is also some easyish rock climbing at Kingston which is most memorable for the views.
Queenstown Rock and Ice is a good reference for climbing.
Don't waste your time going to any of the crags near town. They really are pretty bad, they make Mt Iron at Wanaka look good!
Around Wanaka there is lots of good climbing, especially out beyond Gleddhu Bay.
A good overnight walk is to walk all the way to Scots bivy from Raspberry Flat and return the next day. Alternatively you can go to Liverpool Bivy (a small hut) or French Ridge Hut easily in a day if you are not laden down with mountaineering stuff.
Heaps of great walks in NZ - refer to the doc web site for info. The New Zealanders generally leave the Great Walks to foreigners but there's lots of other stuff to do.
I went up Greenstone and down Caples Valley summer before last - very nice easy walk out of Glenorchy near Wanaka. Also walked up Rock Burn and down North Route Burn - no huts so we took tents. Some do it with just rock bivies but I'd recommend a tent.
As a general rule nobody except Australians take tents walking in NZ if there are huts.
I'd support what Kieran says about river crossings. Crossing rivers in NZ is an easy way to die. They can carry an awful lot of water, and look benign because they're so clear.
You are not allowed to Camp at the base of Wye creek. It is Private farmland. The guide book that recommended it never asked..there is now a no camping sign, since they were so irresponsible.
At some stage there is going to be a toilet built at the Wye creek outlet to the lake which may make camping there OK, otherwise there are campsites the other side of town at 12 mile
I'm a bit biased but the multipitch climbing at South Wye is good, but an extra hours walk up hill from Wye creek.(some is mixed and trad but enough bolted for a day trip, if you haven't packed a rack)
New Zealand is full of excellent short tramps and many of them are well serviced by both huts and transport, meaning you can get away without a car or tent.
The great walks are justifiably named and the infrastructure makes them very convenient for travellers. They are, therefore, also more expensive and crowded. Locals tend to do them in the off season as it is cheaper and you donít need to book, so you can time your trip against weather windows, but although I often hear people disparage the crowds I never hear anyone complain about the quality of the walks.
There are many other walks that are almost as convenient but donít have the same volume of usage or the booking system. The Rees-Dart, Greenstone-Caples and Wilkin-Young are obvious examples (check for progress on the rebuild on Siberia Hut for the last one). From the Rees-Dart you can cross the Cascade Saddle into the Matukituki, although this is considerably more serious and makes the logistics a bit more awkward. The Matukituki itself is well worth a visit and has excellent possibilities, especially if you are happy to enter moderate alpine terrain.
The great walks, especially the Routeburn and Kepler, probably tend to be easier than some of these other options. The track from Wanaka to Arrowtown is reportedly straightforward with great views, but the logistics are a bit fiddly.
Around Mt Cook Village the trip up to Mueller Hut is superb as are the short trips up Sebastopol and Wakefield. If you hire some alpine kit from AGL you can access more diverse terrain.
If you donít have a car, atomic can move you around the island cheaply (also try the naked bus) and these other operators do good tramping logistics:
As people have commented above, trampers die in NZ primarily by trying to cross rivers (and side-streams!) when perhaps it would have been wiser to turn back or wait and also by slipping on wet snow grass / alpine tussock or snow with a bad run-out (think Cascade Saddle, Sefton Biv, Ball Pass), so take care.
Iím not aware of anyone dying from sand-flies but if you stop in the wrong spot it feels like it could happen. Most people happily leave tents behind; DOC will recommend a hilarious giant safety garbage bag.
You can get by in Wanaka using the shuttle to get out to the crags and then hitching back and you should be able to meet people from there, if you donít mind a bit of messing about.
If you just go sport climbing, you wonít miss out on much. There are good local guidebooks for Wanaka & Queenstown, which support bolting funds or you can get adequate coverage from the current version of the South Island Rock Guide. At Mt Cook you can get a topo from AGL for $1 or so.
Wanaka is fun, convenient and varied with lots of routes on a bunch of crags from mid-teens to mid-twenties and a few multi-pitch routes way up the valley. There is a pleasant day to be had at Kingston (great views) but Wye Creek is the best Queenstown cragging: lots of nice walls from 18-22 (although I thought it got quite same-same after a bit). The multi-pitch area up the South Branch of the Wye is well worth the visit. The approach is not as long as suggested and you can go in and climb 10 or so pitches (mostly around gr 20) with just a 60m rope and draws.
There is also lovely multi-pitch sport climbing (although a rack would give you more options) at Chinamanís Bluff past Glenorcy & some varied sub-alpine climbing - from snow and ridge scrambling to quite adventurish routes- in the Remarkables, but you will need some gear.
Long answer; I am rather excited by the thought of summer. Have fun.
On 25/10/2011 stuart h wrote:
>As people have commented above, trampers die in NZ primarily by trying
>to cross rivers (and side-streams!) when perhaps it would have been wiser
>to turn back or wait and also by slipping on wet snow grass / alpine tussock
>or snow with a bad run-out (think Cascade Saddle, Sefton Biv, Ball Pass),
>so take care.
Wye Creek and Wanaka crags will give you great bang for your time buck (don't know if that metaphor works).
As for walks, I reckon you should jump on this website and start dreaming: