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Golden Bay

Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island, is one of Aotearoa’s finest summer holiday destinations. Sunshine, slopers, swimming holes and hippies form the basis of an existential cosmic harmony in the Bay.

The Climbing

The main climbing area is Paynes Ford, New Zealand’s premier limestone sport climbing destination, here you’ll find a collection of small crags and walls, in close proximity to each other and set amongst lovely native bush next to the Takaka river. The area offers almost entirely well-bolted sport climbs on very compact grey limestone, featuring the ubiquitous Paynes sloping rails, there are also quite a few good steep jug-pulling roof climbs.
Fifteen minutes drive from Paynes Ford is Pohara, a seaside area again featuring limestone sport routes, but this time on lighter coloured rock that has cleaned up well and is a lot better than it looks at first sight.
Pohara features good routes in the grade range from about 17 to 26 (5.8 to 5.12c, or 5b to 7b+), while Paynes offers a slightly broader range, with good climbs from 15 to 29 (5.6 to 5.13 or 5a to 8a).



Where to Stay

For the travelling climber, Hangdog Camp, right next door to the Paynes Ford crags, is an essential destination. It is realistically the only gathering place of climbers in New Zealand where you’re able to turn up on your own and be guaranteed a chance of finding a climbing partner (but only in summer).

Hangdog gets extremely busy over the Christmas/New Year period, but the crags rarely feel overcrowded. Holidaying climbers tend to spend as much time in the local cafes, hanging out by the river or swinging fire pois around as they do at the cliffs.




The best guidebooks are Rock Deluxe, which also includes Pohara and Golden Bay Sport Climbs.
The Hangdog Camp manager often has local guide updates available at the camp office. And some info is also available online at Climbnz.

Check out John Palmer and Sebastian Loewensteijn’s article on Paynes from issue 59 of The Climber magazine.


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