Tukinos generally southeast aspect and the multitude of climbs at low altitude make it a particularly good location for ice climbing on Ruapehu. Lack of easy access has probably been the main reason for the lack of developed rock climbing on the eastern side of Ruapehu. Certainly there is no lack of potential rock, and the crags on this side of Ruapehu are much drier – in fact, almost desert-like. Thus, the need to clean routes is minimised. Some of the advantages of climbing at Tukino is that there is no grass, gorse, moss or lichen on the rock so they never dirty-up. The rock is generally surprisingly solid, but there are sections where there is loose rock. Generally protection is nuts and camming devices but there are often bollards and threads for slings. Bolts are very rarely used (discouraged). Most routes will have excellent belay bollards at the top. Walk-offs are generally fairly easy. Please remember that you are in an alpine area and weather conditions can change at any time, so always keep an eye on the weather.
Tukino skifield is accessed via a 4WD road from the Desert Road. There is a locked gate 4km before the road end: see Tukino Alpine Sports Club (TASC) website for contact details to get key and road conditions. As of January 2015, the access road was fine for 4WD cars and a couple of 2WD cars made it to and from the NZAC Summer Camp.
Please remember that you are in an alpine area, and the road can be easily blocked by snow at any time of the year. So caution is advised, and keep an eye on the forecast. It's a long way to the nearest vehicle recovery operator who has appropriately equipped vehicles.
The smooth andesite walls of this crag offer the connoisseur of technical, sequence-based climbing the promise of a rewarding day at the crag, in a wild mountain location. The wall was discovered on an expedition by Kristen Foley, John Palmer and Dan Pringle in the late summer of 2010. Routes began springing up immediately as the Wellingtonians were keen to have more quality route climbing closer to home. Although the routes are all bolted, this is definitely not a consumer crag. But some will find the extreme and isolated location only adds to the experience.
Access: From the Tukino Alpine Sports Club lodge, walk south-east down the ridgeline below the hut. After 10 minutes or so the cliff should be visible down to your right, in the valley and across the Whangaehu River. Drift right down the slope into the gorge and cross the river with caution above the waterfall. From here, follow a spine of rock down to where it leads below the cliff.
The gorge level with the bottom of the lower ski tow. Basically the walls with a SE aspect
Access: From the lower tow shed break a traverse line directly into the gorge keeping close to the base of the bluff. Warning, steep and loose ground, particularly during summer
The very prominate circ that can be seen from the carpart. This crag has the most acessable ice climbing in the country in June & July. THe circ is significantly overhanging, and offers challenges for the most serious Rock and Ice climbers.
Access: Best access is to ascent the ridge directly in front of the end of the road (left of the Aorangio (upper) tow shed, then traverse to the northern side of the crag. An alternative approach is up the Maragert's landing gully.
This is the stream system draining Margaret's Leap. During winter it fills with snow, but come the thaw a large amount of high quality rock is exposed, particularly on the northern side. There is much potentual for realatively easy two pitch routes on very sound rock. Plenty of natural and trad protection options.
Access: Best approached by traversing south under Tascmaster wall into the gully. There is a little bit os easy scrambling to get into the gully properly.
This is a lovely small sheltered crag with a northern aspect. It is located in the base of the Margaret's Landing stream on the southern side. The rock is compact and offers a number of short routes of a range of grades under 20. Walk of is easy, either dropping down a short gully to the east or traversing down the route (cairned) through the bluff to the upper (western) side. About 10 routes were pioneered here in April 2105
Access: Traverse under the Tascmaster wall to a point where you overlook the Margeret's landing stream. Then traverse into the stream dropping slightly to the right. The excellent wall is on the southern side. The route can be a easy scramble.
The long wall further south from the Southern Bluffs and buttresses visible from the TASC Lodge. As a result of lava flows cooling on contact with ice, the crag has horizontal columns and blocks in the steep orange rock of the Fire and Ice area. Explored extensively during the NZAC Summer Camp at TASC January 2015 by the Garrity family and others. Offers full-pitch, moderate trad routes at either end of the crag on blocky ground, and a couple of bolted lines in the middle. With scope for more routes with some appealing lines on the steeper, smooth orange rock, this crag promises to be a nice lower-grade complement to the Wall of Sound. Boulders on top allow anchors to be built back from the edge (long slings or old ropes) but be aware of kicking scree and rocks on those below.
Access: From the TASC Lodge, walk around the base of the Southern Bluffs.
These cliffs, unsurprisingly, are to the south of the car park, towards the Whangaehu valley.
Obvious looking cliff with buttress pillars direct view from TASC Lodge lounge window
Access: walk along the final bit of ski field vehicle access track then head of south west direction obvious cliff infront of you
The crag can be clearly seen from the end of the Tukino ski field road. The routes are to each side of the waterfall, described left to right.
Childs Buttress is the First buttress in the DA Outcrop
Access: 10 min walk from lodges in a north easterly direction dropping down into the stream from the waterfall crag.
Located on a small sheltered plateau on a terrace north of Dimril Stair. The crag as the name implies is small, but visitors will be rewarded with high quality compact rock. The crag has a easy walk off with excellent bollards on top for anchors
Access: from Dimril stairs skirt and climb around the bluffs to the right (climbers)
Above the large prominent waterfall near the upper ski tow. Routes developed during the NZAC Summer Climbing Camp 2015.
Access: From TASC Lodge, scramble up to ski field upper tow shed buliding and siddle to the waterfall (10-15 mins.)
This is a series of crags with a SE aspect above ant tot he north or the Aorangi ski tow area. It has a number of buttresses and small roofs. The rock is variable with layered fractured sections. Some good hunting (and maybe some cleaning) will reveal a number of routes. Eric Duggan and Iain Burgon did 4 routes in this area in April 2015
These are the cliffs across the valley from the car park. The obvious ice lines have been climbed, but there is potential for some very difficult climbs to be completed. The first three routes are on the shorter left-hand section of the bluffs. Much potentual for good rock climbs, but some of the lava layers are shattered
Access: Best approach is to descend to just under the prominate waterfall, then climb out to base of the cliffs.
The upper Mangatoetoenui valley has a remote, rugged character, dominated by the peak of Te Heu Heu. Two lines of bluffs exist on the true right of the river. The upper tier is steeper, very compact and brittle-looking. The lower series, which (counter-intuitively) runs further up the valley, is somewhat similar in composition to Whakapapa Gorge: reddish in colour, iron-hard and with good natural protection. There is scope for many more routes, mostly at moderate grades.
Access: A waterfall makes direct access from below difficult; the best route in is via Tukino skifield. From a point about half way up the top rope tow, turn right (north) and up across the broad ridge. Pick a route down into the upper valley; be aware that a line of cliffs can cause problems. There are cairns on some alternative routes depending on which wall you are heading for and the access points to descent gullies and ledges are cairned.
This section of the Mangatoetoenui bluffs is about 200m upstream of the gorge wall containing "Blue Eyes White Dragon", on the same (southern) side of the valley. It's a distinctive smooth wall with a platy patina, similar in appearance to Whakapapa Gorge. Two gullies just upstream of the wall allow foot access between the bottom and the top of the crag. All natural gear and anchors, befitting this pristine location. Take slings for top anchors.
Access: See general description for Mangatoetoenui Gorge.
Attribution: Francis Garrity
About 100m up valley from Rehab Wall is the Lower Slab and about 50m further is the Upper Slab. Routes are 20m to 40m high on steep slabs with small features (bigger features on the lower slab). Belays are all at the top of each crag on bollards and boulders. The upper slab is too long to rap on double ropes.
Access: As descending ridge towards rehab wall turn left and descend yellow gravel slope and cross direct to top of crag. There is a descent ledge cairned leading above the lower slab and finishing at the base of the upper slab. See photo.
This is the upper tier cliff line in the Mangatoetoenui Gorge. It runs above the White Dragon Wall, broken by an access ledge running the entire base of the cliff and which runs up to a gradual access gully to the top, west end of the cliff. Rock is brittle and loose in places but very solid with good gear in the obvious lines of weaknesses.
Access: As for the rest of the Mangatoetoenui Gorge either down in the head of the valley or the access gully west of the Rehab wall or 150m to east and down the access gully on to mid tier ledge system. Both of these gully acess points have been marked with stone cairns.
The lower tier of cliffs along the south side of the Mangatoetoenui Gorge. This good-looking crag is in a spectacular location close to the river, where a rounded shelf rises out of a narrow gorge and then up to form a steep wall.
Access: Once in the Mangatoetoenui Gorge head down the true right of the stream.
Just up stream from White Dragon Wall, past the access point to the ledge system between the upper and lower tiers.
Access: Walk down valley once in the Mangatoetoenui Gorge. If you find the right stream you can descend the ledge system past the top of this crag to the access point to the base of the cliffs, then walk upstream a few metres.
This crag lies at the foot of the lava flow north of the hut and south of the Mangatoetoenui stream adjacent to the falls from the Mangatoetoenui valley. There are trad and sport climbs from 8m to 20m in height, grades from 13 to 21 with scope for a few more hard routes. The rock is similar to the Wall of Sound but on a smaller more approachable scale. It has a number of impeccable lines and some good routes for learning to lead. Discovered by David and Philip Garrity 31/1/16
Access: Approach from the hut by dropping to the ridge, west of all the huts and following it down to the stream(NE direction) then sidling around the next ridge and, keeping your height, head straight across to the top left hand edge of the crag (about 10 minutes there and 15-25 minutes back to hut, depending on how big your load is). Access to the top is easiest on the left side but there is an easy access scramble left of centre and an access rope at the right hand end. Belays are off boulders scattered across the top of the crag. Recommended basecamp is at the top as the bottom is very dusty except at far righthand end.