The first Westener known to climb Mt Everest was a New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary, and his fellow countrymen have been cultivating a reputation as great mountaineers ever since. There's certainly no shortage of mountains to climb in New Zealand, with Queenstown
on the South Island known as the country's unofficial action capital. That's where Jason Dundas went to put his climbing skills to the test.
He experienced Climbing Queenstown's Via Ferrata which is based on an Italian climbing system. Via Ferrata translates as "Iron Way". The Italians have been using the system for more than a century. The Iron Way was used to quickly move troops throughout mountain terrain during wars and, in peacetime, became popular for recreation.
The Queenstown version is made up of 12 routes of varying length and difficulty, snaking their way up the cliffs of Queenstown Hill. Each route is equipped with fixed rung and cable systems, pegs, rails and ladders.
Before you tackle the climb, guides fit you out with everything you need and you learn to use the carabiners, rungs and wires on a practise loop. Climbing experience is not necessary, and depending upon your level of fitness and the amount of adrenaline you want, you can safely climb or abseil, under the instruction of guides. There are options for the absolute beginner through to hardcore adventure seekers.
Climbing Queenstown take four to six adventurers per guide and you should allow four hours from the time of being picked. The site is just five minutes away from the town, so your time on the cliffs is maximised. Head guides are qualified and are members of the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association.
Once you've reached the top of your climb the reward is stunning, with views across Queenstown to Lake Wakatipu and beyond. You will probably find your mind as well as your body has been exercised by the experience.
on New Zealand's South Island.
Air New Zealand has flights to Queenstown.
- Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane $389
- Adelaide $402
- Perth $595
Sales and validity dates apply.
Climbing Queenstown has four-hour rock-climbing experiences for $125 for adults and $70 for children. All equipment and courtesy transport are included. They begin at 9am and 1pm.
Prices correct at June 4, 2009.
For further information
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
36 Shotover Street
Ph: +64 27 477 9393
Fax: +64 3 442 6406
Visas: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
Electricity: 230V/50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.
Time zone: GMT +12.
Currency: The New Zealand dollar.
Telephone code: +64.