Takaka - Between rock and a hippie place


I found myself observing the lowering of the landing gear, while lethargically gazing out of the porthole of my tiny Jetstar propeller-driven bombardier.

This was my 25th hour on a plane in the course of the last 2 days, and I think it is safe to say that I was slowly getting over it. As Orson Welles laconically put it:

"There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror".

Although I never really experienced the latter (although I should later during this holiday) I definitely had more than my fair share of the former.

Arguably I would also add a third "emotion" to the equation: the feeling of constipation.

Safe to say that stepping out of the plane in Nelson was a relief. No more flying for a couple of days. And with a bit of luck, a toilet stop sometime soon.

Climbing gear
New Zealand from plane
Jetstar bombardier
Random old chair at climbing crag

I was here for a couple of days of rock climbing, and after entering Paul's new shag van in Nelson, we were of to Takaka.

Takaka is often referred to as the hippie central of New Zealand, and you will see why the moment you come into town.

Situated between the south end of Golden Bay and the iconic Abel Tasman national park, this area was mostly developed during the 1970s by US immigrants and has been a hippie community ever since.

And everyone here will make sure that you are very aware of that, walking through town you will have the feeling that everything screams Liberal and Organic in your face.

And that is perfectly fine, nothing against it - on the contrary - but the moment you see a shirt-less, long haired dude playing hacky sack in front of a supermarket, with expensive "hippie" pants and a biceps bracelet, it all becomes very corny very quickly.

Bojan milicevic climbing at Tarakohe
Tenting illegally
Climbing at Tarakohe
Bojan milicevic climbing at Tarakohe
Paul at Tarakohe
Possum skull

But we were here for the climbs anyway, and there is some great climbing around Nelson.

We avoided Paynes Ford, which is the biggest and most famous crag in these parts, due to the fact that the climbs tend to be sandbaged in terms of difficulty and the bolting ranges from dodge to silly, if silly is an appropriate adjective for bolting that may cause a hospital stay.

To all the route setting, bolt wielding cowboys out there: if you want to set balsy routes with high stakes, then by all means do trad climbing.

Setting a sport climb with dangerous bolting is like draining a swimming pool, painting it blue, and then throwing a pool party at night. People will get hurt.

Cafe on a boat new Takaka
Fischer net
Bojan falling
Manta ray

So we focused our efforts on Tarakohe, a significantly smaller but high quality limestone crag.

The main wall is a sustained overhang, without being too steep and the bolting, although sometimes scary, is safe (still falling before the second bolt is to be avoided).

For me this was a great wall for pushing my physical and mental limits. Falling from the upper sections of the wall will result in some major air time that will make your stomach turn on occasions.

I found myself looking down at that last bolt a couple of meters below me while fighting my way up the crux section and I just remember spurting out a croaked "f&%$" before diving into the void.

I recommend having a few sips of the exquisite South Island Manuka Whiskey before climbing here, it does help.

Sometimes all you need to succeed is some good old fashioned Dutch courage.

Water hole at Payne's Ford
Water hole at Payne's Ford
Paul bouldering a roof
Manuka Whiskey
Romantic sunset
Romantic sunset

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