Climber on sheer wall in dark forest

Crag Of The Month - Whanganui Bay II

For the first part of this feature, see here.

Access to Whanganui Bay is currently restricted to a winter season, which is the best time of year to climb there. For more access details, check here and always register and pay before your visit to keep this access viable. This year's season ends on 1-12-23, so if you want to visit then this month is the time.

Climber on steep rock
Bob Keegan cranking pocks on the steep Roland Foster classic Even Dwarfs Started Small (28). Photo: Tom Hoyle

We talked about Whekenui in the last part, but there are many more sectors at Whanganui Bay. As popular as Whekenui, is The Plateau. The Plateau has a range of routes, but is most known for the staunch routes on the Trinity and El Topo walls. On these walls appeared the first routes of the grade 28 climbed in New Zealand, as well as a few even harder additions that followed in later years. Routes like the pictured Even Dwarfs Started Small (28), Tigerstyle (29) and Trinity (30) are well-protected. While El Topo (28) and Repulsion (27) sport very few bolts and will test your fingers and your stomach.

But The Plateau isn't only about hard routes, you'll also find many classics at more accessible grades like the mixed route Reckless (19), the over featured- rock on Childhood's End (24) and the involved Hot Lava (23).

Climber in forest
John Palmer climbs The Oxidator (21), Up De Do Da Buttress. Photo: Tom Hoyle

Moving further away from the lake, there are also a couple of must-visit sectors tucked away in the bush. Up De Do Da Buttress is home to the ignimbrite classic When We Were Kings (24), plus a few neighbouring routes well worth doing.

Just up the road is Lobotomy Buttress, home to the Whanganui Bay testpiece and New Zealand's most phonetically-named route Duudooduudo (21), a 40m route with increasingly sparse bolts the higher you climb. Right next door is one of the most under-appreciated routes At Whanganui Bay - Turbomingent Torremounting Tossers (23).

Climber thrutches
Kristen Foley on the neo-classic The Man On The Clapham Omnibus (24). Photo: Tom Hoyle

Further up the road and in the gorge area is Mangakara, something of the Wild West of Whanganui Bay. This collection of sectors has a completely different ambience to the rest of the crag, with the lake far out of sight and walls nestled amongst old native forest. The rap in-climb out venue the Pacifica Wall used to sport just a couple of routes, but was revisited in the 2010s by John Palmer, Tom Hoyle and Kristen Foley, who established a s;lew of other high quality routes that are well-worth the access logistics. Recommended are The Re-Up (21), The Man On The Clapham Omnibus (24) and Propaganda (26).

Walking in from the top of the gorge, you can access Upper Mangakara, home to some old-school trad routes (there's even a John Allen route), including the classic fist crack Gotterdammerung (25). Right next to that route are some newer, seldom-repeated additions from John Palmer: Twilight Of The Gods (31) and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (30). The sequence on Twilight is stunning and it might be the hardest route of the crag.

Further into the gorge is the Wild Wall. Here you'll find some more newer routes, including Jeremy Tries' excellent Into The Wild (24). The routes here are long and varied, with more modern protection than much of The Bay. One of the newest additions is The New Funk (31), which might just be the hardest route at Whanganui Bay.