A crag with a ton of atmosphere which makes up the side of a 225m cleft.
Many routes are defended by an initial 4–8m band of choss which is well protected by bolts and chains. Once the choss has been negotiated you will be rewarded by wonderful climbing on shallow basalt organ pipe extrusions offering a multitude of intricate movement options in sustained sequences. The protection is excellent on nearly all of the routes, unless described in the guide. Take a good trad rack – offset wires and small cams are very handy. Having the skill and endurance to use them is also helpful. Take care when rapping off! The raps are at the danger length and the ground slopes away below.
With an observation platform at the lip of the amphitheatre, Lovers Leap was hardly a secret. Murray Judge looked at it in the early 1970s, but development had to wait for the arrival of the power drill. Al Ritchie first put up routes here in 1998. They were impressive ground up efforts, which included leading through the horror show bands of choss. He raved about the potential, but disappeared into the Wanaka scene, never to be heard of again. In December 2000, Steve Carr and Dave Brash, abseiled in to check it out. They discovered beautiful organ pipes defended from above and below by bands of terrible rock. Amazingly they had the crag pretty much to themselves for a couple of years. Keith Riley returned to Dunedin and could not believe the “best single pitch crag in the country” had miraculously appeared in his absence. Keith contributed a slew of first ascents, and the development of easier short routes on the left side as well as more sport routes. The Leap has been exposed to the masses via the Southern Faces DVD, a cover photo on the Climber, and inclusion in that issue’s National Basalt Hit-list; this has coincided with increased popularity.
Access: Follow Highcliff Rd out of Dunedin, past Larnachs Castle, then 15km from Dunedin turn right into Sandymont Rd which is followed to the carpark at its end. Follow a signposted track through macrocarpas, past a woolshed, towards the Lovers Leap viewing platform. About 100m before the platform, turn left down a gully, going steeply downhill and around the right-hand side of the crag, then double back along the base of the crag.
Attribution: Dave Brash
The wall under the platform. Furtherest away from the approach.
Access: Walk L under the crag 200-300m until you are directly in line with the gash under the natural bridge.
A cluster of mostly easier short crack corners with excellent pro, often split by ledges but all worth doing as an introduction to the Leap, and warm ups for the for the harder RHS climbs. The LH routes also dispense with the annoying band of choss at the start.
An orange wall packed with steep columns.