The Official Guide to Rock Climbing in Auckland

November 23

Ahh Auckland, the City of Sails. It’s known for its gorgeous beaches, cosmopolitan vibe and delicious food, but for those looking for a little more adventure, the biggest smoke in New Zealand is actually home to some awesome rock climbing spots. If you’re after indoor climbing, Auckland offers a chance for everyone to chalk up their hands and tap into their inner monkey, with everything from Clip n Climb to the more gnarly vertical routes of Extreme Edge Panmure on offer. For experienced climbers, there’s even a few outdoor options around.

As far as adventures go, rock climbing is one of the most versatile (and fun) around. There are climbs that are perfect for the kids, or for those looking for a workout, it’s an awesome way to build strength in muscles you didn’t even know you had. In fact, as well as being fun, it’s a super energy-intensive sport, so if you’re shredding for summer, find yourself some vertical routes.

Whether you’re a pro, a total amateur or simply curious, the thrill of climbing is in anyone’s reach. Let’s get our heads around the best of Auckland rock climbing.

What are the best climbing spots Auckland has to offer?

Auckland has good selection of indoor climbing gyms with a diverse range of walls and climbing routes, offering sport (or lead) climbing, bouldering and top rope. If you’ve never been climbing and are scratching your head, we’ll break it down for you.

With top rope style climbing (which is on offer at almost every climbing gym), a rope is anchored at the top and belayed, which means there’s someone on the ground to take the tension off your fall. There is also auto-belay style, first invented by Clip n Climb in Christchurch, where an automatic device at the top of the wall controls the tension and lowers the climber slowly. A smart idea – it’s a far calmer experience when you don’t have to worry about your spouse, kid or friend holding your life rope.

With sport, or lead, climbing, there’s a predetermined route, with fixed bolts for the climbers to clip into as they climb. Sport climbing is less common to find at an indoor climbing gym, as the fall distance increases the farther you get away from your last clip-in.

Bouldering is quite a different experience; there’s no use of a rope or harness – rather, crash pads are used. The routes (or ‘problems’) are not usually more than 7 metres tall, either, and climbers will usually have a partner spotting them.

Auckland has a brilliant array of indoor climbing areas that have all of the above, and a good community of climbers, too. Whether you head to Extreme Edge in Panmure, Clip n Climb in Glen Eden or Vertical Adventures in Mt Eden, each location offers something slightly different. There are a couple of constants, though: friendly staff to help guide you, and a good old fashioned good time.

Plus, most have late opening hours, so you can go until the wee hours (well, until 9 or 10pm). Gather your kids, your group and your nerves, and let’s hit the wall.

What is the hardest rock climb in Auckland?

The most difficult rock climbing experience in Auckland would be Maungarei Springs, a great and renowned outdoor crag . Please be sensible and safe, use a helmet (climbers and belayers!) and check and see that it’s not closed when you want to go. Maungarei Springs is in Stonefields, Mt Wellington and has a mix of sport and trad routes.

The ‘hardest in Auckland’ title used to go to the world famous Mt Eden Quarry, the most popular crag in the North Island and home to the first hard urban climbs in New Zealand, but unfortunately that area is closed for climbing at the moment. For details on the best climbing areas across New Zealand, The Crag is a climber’s website, and a great guide.

Aside from these, the Stony Batter area on Waiheke island, which is an outdoor bouldering spot, is up there with the more challenging spots in the North Island. It’s a stunning location, with a range of problems – the good kind. Adventures guaranteed.

Is there a bouldering climbing place in Auckland?

Yes, there are a few indoor options, and they’re the perfect way to see if you like it before you take to the great outdoors! Northern Rocks in Wairau Park is a dedicated boulder gym, and the largest in Auckland. Extreme Edge has a good bouldering section, too.

If you’ve done some training at the gym and feel you’re ready to get outdoors, get yourself out to the Stony Batter area in Waiheke.

What are the top indoor rock climbing gyms in Auckland?

Extreme Edge Panmure

Found in a four-storey former aircraft hangar, this climbing centre has got it all – and is one of the biggest in New Zealand. Extreme Edge has 200 sport (lead) and top rope climbing routes, with a clear grading system to guide you through the difficulty levels. Whether you’re an elite climber in training, or a group of mates just looking to have fun, there’s a route for everyone. Extreme Edge Panmure has a boulder section, too, and you’ll never be stuck for a new route to try.

Northern Rocks

This climbing centre is a dedicated boulder gym that values inclusivity above all else. Everyone is welcome, whether you’ve been bouldering for years or it’s your first time – they are super welcoming, encouraging people of all backgrounds and abilities to join.

Vertical Adventures

Vertical Adventures in Glen Eden have walls ranging from 10 to 15 metres, and over 65 top rope climbs. They’ve got an area dedicated to kids, and their friendly staff are always around, helping you find the right section to start and encouraging everyone to pick a wall and have a go.

Clip ‘n’ Climb

This is one of the most exciting new climbing concepts of the last decade, and was birthed in little ol’ New Zealand! Christchurch, to be exact. It’s also the best way to keep the kids (and the kids at heart) entertained for hours. Their concept is fun climbing, and that’s exactly what they do. More colours than a packet of skittles, blow-up walls, ladders, glow-in-the-dark walls and, of course, their world famous auto belay system. Get your fix at Mt Eden or Albany.

Are there any rock climbing groups in Auckland?

There’s a fantastic climbing community in Auckland, with lots of small groups for everyone from beginners to pros. The Crag website has forums where people can comment, ask questions and get in contact with each other. Otherwise, there are plenty of Facebook groups where you can find climbing buddies for group missions, advice or just to sit and chat climbing over a beer.

Is rock climbing hard for beginners?

If you’ve never climbed before, it can be challenging – but in a good way. It’s a fantastic way to get fit and work your whole body, and one of the best things about it is how quickly you’ll start to see results. You’ll be scrambling up overhangs in no time.

How dangerous is rock climbing?

The indoor climbing centres in New Zealand may be focused on fun, but they take safety seriously, too. They have strict safety procedures and keep all their equipment up to date. If you want to find out more details about how each gym manages their safety, contact them directly to check.

If you’re climbing on your own, it’s up to you to make sure you’ve got all the right gear, have done your research and are climbing within your skill level.

How do I get better at rock climbing?

Go rock climbing. Simple as that – get out there and see for yourself! See you out there.


Join us…

Delivering a unique reading experience, 1964: mountain culture / aotearoa works with more than thirty artists, including photographers, writers, woodworkers, welders, creatives and makers for each issue. We advocate for and support Aotearoa’s artists.