So for those of you that are regular readers, you’ll know I’ve committed to a year of “microadventures”.
This challenge to appease my ever-travelling, restless spirit, involves going on 12 domestic adventures in 12 months – things I wouldn’t normally do that challenge me mentally or physically.
So my latest journey ticked off the ‘finally climb outdoors” goal: After years of climbing fake walls with fake rocks I finally managed to scale something the earth produced. Keeping with the theme of exploring seacliffs after the Piha to Anawhata adventure, a friend Nic and I headed north of Auckland to explore Ti Point near Leigh.
With visions of being a competent climber with nerves of steel and ultimate ‘cool’ I was all for the proposed mission of scaling coastal cliffs for the weekend. Cool rock beneath my hands, the sun warming my body as I climb, and the sounds of calm water lapping the rocks beneath me. The image is nothing but idyllic.
But again, those who know me know that I’m not quite ‘cool’. More like Bridget Jones on a good day. Before we’d even left the carpark I’d managed to explode climbing chalk all through the back of my car and camera bag. The fine dust left to settle on the dash while we’re gone. Rookie error.
Anyway, I strap harness, shoes, carabineers and kit to the back of my camera bag and we set off along the Ti Point Coastal Walkway. Some call it the greatest short coastal walk in NZ but that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. It’s pretty nonetheless:
We continue past the sign reading “The End of the Track” and start rock hopping through a maze of boulders and rockpools. I’m trying my best to keep up but Nic is part mountain goat and I struggle to stay sure-footed, negotiating the approach like some dickhead bambi. Anyone watching this would already fear for my safety – but like my Mum would confirm, “Ocean doesn’t know what she can’t do. She’s like the bumblebee that shouldn’t be able to fly, but does anyway”. I’m all in!
We head through “The Arch” to claim a stunning piece of coastline all to ourselves. It’s off the main tourist/Auckland routes, which make it perfectly quite and still. The sun is full-out and sparkling magnificently off the water, and I couldn’t be more stoked with this choice of adventure.
Observing the rock, most of the climbs seem equipped with ring bolt belays, but the climbing guide states that we may have to rig top-ropes off Pohutakawa trees depending on our choice of grades. It all seems a bit Bear Grylls to me, so I leave Nic to scale the backside and set everything up while I snack and lie about in the sun. Ultimate climbing partner haha.
Routes of choice
Heads and Tails (16), 20m
Begin in the crack to the right (Hjar) and move left out onto the face just below the first bolt (about half height). DBC.
Hjar (15), 20m
Immediately to the right of the Arch is a wide crack that narrows to a chockstone near the top, DBC.
You can find more in the climbing guide here – https://www.freeclimb.co.nz/pdfs/Ti-point.pdf
It dawned on me as I clipped in at the foot of these cliffs – this is nothing like the gym and I’m actually intimidated. There are no marked routes, no clear footholds, and if you cock it up there’s a good chance of getting hurt. Welcome to the adventure.
Every ounce of cool leaves my body, yet again. My little bambi legs are shaking, I misjudge a move and grate my shins down the rock straight away producing some dreamy welts. But hey – now I’ve had my first fall I know what to expect and can anticipate more clearly what this climbing journey is going to be like for me. Not all scrapes and swearwords but a down-to-earth and more realistic expectation of the risks and rewards involved.
Eventually I scale the walls and gain my confidence, and it’s freaking amazing to be doing this outside. Big thanks to Nic for helping tick off this little micro-adventure. For those that are keen:
Access: Ti Point is located about 90km north of Auckland. Take State Highway One to Warkworth, turning off to Leigh and Matakana. You’ll eventually park up on Ti Point Road at the end by the boat ramp. Follow the Ti Point Coastal Walkway till the end then do a bit of rock hopping till you get to “The Arch”.
Pick your climbing routes here. https://www.freeclimb.co.nz/pdfs/Ti-point.pdf