Tag Archives: Hangdog campground

Relaxing at the Hangdog campground after the Abel Tasman


This short and slightly low-key adventure stems off of my hike of the Abel Tasman Great Walk – See the entry about Walking the Abel Tasman to see the backstory

07 Feb 2012 through 08 Feb 2012

I had arrived at the Hangdog earlier in the day, thanks to the help of a very friendly German couple giving me a lift into town, and had quickly gotten bored of just sitting around the campground reading and writing up stories on my barely-charged laptop. And so, thanks to the very generous nature of the Hangdog staff, I borrowed one of the lender-bikes and headed into town to find myself some food, and possibly a bit of distraction.

The first order of business was the food, and so when I got into town I started wandering around looking for somewhere that could serve me up a good hamburger. I wasn’t able to find a particularly good hamburger unfortunately, but I was able to find a cheap hamburger… yet another one of the wonders of New Zealand Fish and Chip shops is that they serve a whole variety of horribly cheap and greasy foods, one of which was a nice plate of chips (french fries), a hamburger, and a nice big soda. Horribly bad for me I know, but after a whole week of actual good food I think its an acceptable lapse.

After quickly chowing down on my delicious grease-fest of a late lunch, I started wandering around the town looking for something to catch my eye. What I found was a whole series of really neat paintings done on the sides of buildings and used as street signs; for example, instead of having “slow down” traffic signs, they had a full painting of The Flash yelling “You’re going too damn fast!”. I loved it, and spent a good bit of time wandering around and taking pictures of pretty much anything that happened to catch my eye.

After a bit more wandering, and a quick visit to an internet cafe to catch up on email, I headed back into camp for a quick bite to eat before what I planned to be a quite strenuous evening of reading and chilling with some most excellent climbers. Unfortunately for me, the last part of that plan did not happen to be in the cards – instead of the campground being populated by awesome climbers like it had been on previous trips, it was instead populated almost entirely by a group of rather insular Germans who had no interest in talking to other people… or at least people who didn’t speak German.

Thankfully I had picked myself up a rather substantial dinner while I was in town earlier in the day, to supplement what I had remaining from the trail, and so I was feeling fairly full and sleepy quite soon after the sun went down that night. I found myself nodding off in my tent before 10:00 even hit, though I had quite the time actually falling asleep, thanks to the volume of the campfire songs being sung around the camp. Some were horrible country songs from the States (sung by the few Americans who knew enough German to join the group), but most were old-school-style German songs; the negligable amount of German that I know allowed me to understand just enough words to know that yes, in fact, they were singing in German, no matter how off-key it was.

The next morning dawned bright and early, though the amount of dew on my tent made it clear that it had rained during the night. Thanks to my early evening I was awake extremely early, even for my new sleep schedule, but I found myself falling back to sleep repeatedly. I think it was a combination of the most-excellent dreams I was having about flying a spaceship through an alien star-system and the fact that the horrid songs the night before had kept me up longer than they should have.

Either way, once I did finally get myself mobile I started into my chores for the day with a passion. I braved the bug-storm that erupted between the rain-fly of my tent an the inside (a downside of having a dry spot during a rainstorm, I guess) and cooked up some breakfast, took a shower, and even did my laundry. One of the things that I had made sure to pack with me when I left the States was a length of accessory cord which I turned into, this time, a clothes line outside of my tent. Hey, the New Zealand sun is quite intense, I may as well make use of it, right? Once everything was set up I headed out again, this time to the crag where I sat and edited pictures and wrote up stories for nearly four hours, eating bites of snack as I worked.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, since nothing particularly interesting happened. I chatted with a few new faces around the campsite, but everyone who was interested in talking seemed to be keeping a low profile. It’s a danger of campgrounds like that – if you get a good group, it can really end up overshadowing everyone else in the campground. And in this case, the “good group” was not accepting new membership. And so I relaxed and kept to myself, a good continuation from my solitude of the trail. I enjoyed it, and the day faded quickly into evening as I read about the adventures of a group of brave little Hobbits.

The third day at Hangdog started out early and with a lot of work, as it found me packing up all of my gear and setting out on the trail yet again. I got delayed for a bit chatting with one of the old-timer climbers, a guy named Jay who talked for ages about the advantaged of a raw vegan diet and how communes make the world a better place.

As strange as it is to say, I found the conversation interesting, since Jay actually had a strong background and knowledge-base that he was speaking from, instead of the usual dirty-hippy-blather that’s spouted around a campfire. I learned that Jay is a programmer who works on video games for children, and that he’s been working his way around New Zealand for months now; doing a bit of coding here and there and sending it back to the main office when he finishes a game. Interesting, and definitely a neat way to travel, since it lets you take advantage of good days, and get some work done when the weather turns against you.

I have to admit that I left fairly quickly once the topic turned to communes, and more people started joining into the conversation, turning it from a dialogue into a sounding booth for hippie ideals. As strange as it is, I cannot stand hippies who think that everyone should be organic and live life in a commune full of raw vegans. It’s not that I don’t like the ideas in small doses, but the self-righteousness grates on me. And so, with that fairwell, I headed back into Takaka to catch a bus back to Nelson.

A few days at Hangdog – a simple draft


Writing this up is taking me forever, so here’s a draft version to tide you loyal readers over 🙂


This post just contains the camping that I did at the Hangdog camp near Paynes Ford in New Zealand, and not the whole story of my stay there. See the other two posts in this series for the rest of the details – “Driving to and from Takaka” and “Climbing at Paynes Ford”

Nov 26th

Time spent out of doors (no car, tent, etc…) = 6 hrs

  • Get up pretty late and have some brekky
  • head out to get the car
  • Pack up, check gear, hit the road
  • Damn but New Zealand is pretty…
  • Lunch at the coffee shop – Mochachino and “chips”, AKA “French Fries”
  • Lots of fun driving… lots of switchbacks and hairpin turns
  • Arrive
  • Set up tent, realize we only have one… “We’re getting cozy tonight!”
  • Make us some dinner… why isn’t the stove working? I think its ’cause the fuel isn’t burning hot enough, since the burner isn’t holding pure
  • Finally finish dinner on the semi-working stove, eat amazing pasta and chicken
  • Chill & eat by fire – learn that yes, the fuel does burn too cool. Lots of folks have that problem
  • Drink and relax, trading stories about everything
  • Pull out the big guns, pour everyone a glass of scotch, and do a toast to Sam with lots of people
  • DAMN but thats some fine scotch
  • Sleep outside


Nov 27th

Time spent out of doors (no car, tent, etc…) = 20+ hrs

Time spent barefoot = 24 hrs

  • Wake up & its still dark… screw that I’m going back to sleep
  • Wake up for real, eat some cereal and have hot coffee with Mike
  • Chat with folks, meet a few random folks, meet Henry (short for Henrietta), a really cool woman who plans to meet up with us later on
  • Pack up gear and some food
  • Walk to the climbs, get shit together, rack up, and start up
  • Henry gets here, then Johaan joins up too, and the four of us start rocking it
  • Climbs:
  • Get back to camp, write & read and eat beans and relax for a bit.
  • Get annoyed with Methyl fuel and head into town to get some white-gas
  • no white-gas, so we get Kerosine instead
  • get back, cook dinner (yay fuel that works), relax with Henry and Johaan
  • shoot the shit for a while with Henry and Johaan, then move over to the fire
  • chill by the fire for a bit telling stories and drinking scotch
  • Sleep in tent


Nov 28th

Time spent out of doors (no car, tent, etc…) = 20+ hrs

  • Wake up a few times, don’t really feel like getting out of the sleeping bag since its raining
  • Have some breakfast of bread & cheese & apple & drink
  • Chill & read for a bit, then head out for an adventure
  • Drive around and explore
    • Long pretty views
    • Rain
    • Waterfalls
    • skipping stones
    • Lunch @ Dangerous Cafe – Pizza!
  • Climbing!
  • Head back, since its starting to get late and we’re hungry
  • Hit the store to grab beef and bread
  • Chill with Hannah and Jess for a bit, clean up my stove and relax
  • Cook up some awesome chili while chatting with Tanya, a climber who just set up her tent next to ours
  • Chili… so good! Yet so dangerous if you drop it on your lap…
  • Eat up, chat with Johaan and Rikke for a bit, then head over to the fire since Tanya is sleeping nearby (pro-tip: Mosquitos can sneak into cars. You are not safe)
  • Fire time! Porn mags, swede’s are perverts, lots of fun
  • sleep outside, SO GOOD! Also of note: Swedish girls are loud. When along in a tent. Aww yeah.


Nov 29th

Time spent out of doors (no car, tent, etc…) = 20+ hrs

  • Sleep outside, but get into the tent around six ’cause its raining
  • Wake up around 9:30 to Johaan kicking the tent in
  • Chat with Danny and Tanya (Canadian climbers who’re awesome)
  • Head to The Seawall with Johaan, Rikke, Hannah and Jess
  • Get back, say goodbyes to the girls
  • Cook ourselves up some awesome dinner of Spaghetti and meat sauce
  • Clean up, Mike takes a nap, chill and read for a bit
  • Lost Horse
  • Air Raid siren
  • Chilling by the fire and relaxing with Johaan and Rikke… the other people are boring as shit.
  • See quotes from the night-life


Nov 30th

Time spent out of doors (no car, tent, etc…) = 20+ hrs

  • slept outside, and dang it was cold. But ohh so excellent
  • Wake up when the birds mimic my alarm
  • wake up again when Johaan wakes me up
  • Up, coffee, breakfast of beans, get Mike moving… no luck.
  • Johaan and Rikke leave early
  • CLIMB!
  • pack up and head out
  • Meet Ana and Steffy who’re really cool / hot German chicks
  • Say our goodbyes to Johaan and Rikke
  • jet out

Climbing at Paynes Ford


This post just contains the climbing that I did at Paynes Ford, New Zealand, and not the whole story of my stay there. See the other two posts in this series for the rest of the details – “Driving to and from Takaka” and “A few days at Hangdog”

**NOTE – this post has a gallery of images, but its located at the end of the post… mostly because said gallery is 105 pictures long.  WOO photography!**

Oh my lord the climbing here in Paynes Ford is amazing. It actually reminds me a lot of the New River Gorge, or possibly Rumney, thanks to the close proximity of an amazing climbing campground and tons and tons of epic sport climbing. There’s really no multi-pitch or trad climbing here, but the sport climbing ranges from 11’s to high 20’s and maybe a 30 or two. And the sport routes are quite interesting, to say the least.

First off – the rock. The rock in Paynes ford was a type of limestone that I hadn’t climbed on often, though it did remind me of the climbing that I did in California years ago when I went up with my buddy Big T. The rock was primarily a combination of horrid sloping holds and amazing huecos that provided amazingly placed “hallelujah holds” for when you needed a rest.

Second off – the ratings. New Zealand uses the Oceana system instead of the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS). This took me a bit of getting used to, but its honestly pretty simple and efficient, since it doesn’t have the sharp increase in difficulty that comes once you break the 5.10 wall. I did kind of appreciate the simplicity and framiliarity of the YDS, but I slowly got used to calling climbs by their appropriate difficulty.

(Link to conversion tables: http://www.mountaindays.net/articles/item/rock_climbing_grades_explained/#aus)

The Climbs themselves:

On the 27th Mike and I headed out early, planning on meeting up with a few people who we had met at the fire the night before; Henrietta, Johaan, and Rikke. Johaan and Rikke were a couple from Scandanavia, and Henry was an adventurer / wanderer who was passing through for a few days before taking up a new job watching one of the huts set up by the Department of Conservation. Mike and I busted up a few pretty solid warm-up climbs before Henry met up with us, and then we all started turning up the heat and laying out some rather impressive climbs. After a bit Johaan met up with us as well and we switched off into two smaller groups – Mike and I rocking out the lighter climbs and seconding some of Johaan’s climbs while Henry and Johaan lead up some rather impressively rough climbs. What we worked up are:

    • Easy 11 – fun with great hueco’s, was a really solid warm-up climb for us
    • Easy 12 – great holds again, but has an awesome slab portion at the end. Really a good introduction to Paynes Ford’s style of climbing; sloped holds and awesome pockets.
    • SWEET 18 – very, very burly start (overhanging) moves to good handholds, it moved out of the overhand and and ended with a fairly difficult slab section that required some impressive balancing work. I wouldn’t want to lead this.
    • good 14 – Simple, clean, and efficient; a great cool-down climb that had some interesting moves near the middle.
    • slab 17 – Damn but this reminds me of WhiteHorse. Two bolts for a 20+ meter climb, with a 10m run out at the end. Scary, hellishly scary, but awesome. I took two falls trying to leave the 2nd bolt, but finally make it up. After sweating and swearing at the rock.

On the 28th it was raining for most of the morning, so Mike and I headed into town and did some light adventuring around the area and beaches. The full story is later on in this series about Takaka. However, we did meet up with Johaan later on in the afternoon and headed back to the wall to get a few climbs in. See, one of the amazing things about New Zealand in the summer is that the daylight lasts forever. Literally past 9:00 at night most evenings, so even though we didn’t head to the wall until nearly 3:30, we definitely had more than enough daylight left for us. We checked the guidebook for some climbs that usually stay dry, packed up the rope and draws, and headed out.

The climbs that we found had a lot in common with the climbs from the day before, but they showcased another part of Paynes Ford; the fact that most of the bolts are horribly placed, at least from a safeties perspective. If we fell while trying to clip the second clip we’d likely hit the ground, and the first clip was 4+ meters high. Yeah, scary. But we stayed within our skill range and kept ourselves safe.

    • 15 – The first climb that we did in the area, this was a really fun and strange start that we had a bit of trouble with, and an even stranger center
    • 16 – A simple climb, to be honest. It was definitely fun though, and the beginning offered a rather nice challenge for footing.
    • 22 – A very hard climb that we each tried once or twice before giving up. We didn’t lead it, just used a top-rope that I had set up on the previous climb.
    • 18 – Wow. I honestly don’t know how to describe this climb, besides hard, tiring, and amazing. It’s one of my favorites at Paynes Ford because it starts out very arm-strengthy, and then moves out into a sort of crack climbing. I loved it, and got amazing views from the top of the climb.

The 29th was a very good day, even though we got an impressively late start. Mike and I hauled ourselves out of bed, drank down some jet fuel masquerading as coffee, toasted some bread and jumped in the car. Instead of climbing at the crag right by the camp we headed through town to meet Johaan, Rikke, and a pair of Swedish girls names Jess and Hanna that we had met the night before. We all met up at the sea-cliffs – a place much like Otter Cliffs in Acadia. We arrived just as Johaan arrived (he had gotten lost), so the six of us grabbed the ropes and tramped up the path to the climbs.

    • 16 – lead – A very solid starting climb, it was made up of a good number of sloping holds in the beginning, with the handholds slowly getting better as we moved upwards.
    • 18 – good lord the first bolt on this one was high… I top-roped it after Johaan climbed, and I am glad that I did. The climb defintiely was not an easy one, and the second bolt was nearly as tough as the first to get to. I didn’t take any falls past the beginning, but I had watched Johaan take a few as he lead it. Rough.
    • 17 – Lead – an easy 17, though it had just enough mind games to make sure it was a legit 17 and not anything lower. Though the head games only came from leading, so on top-rope I would probably have lowered the grade to a 16+.
    • 18 – This one was full of a good number of nice laybacks, though even with the good handholds it was a bit too thin for me to lead. I did enjoy it on top-rope quite a bit though.
    • 19?? – This is a climb that Jess made up herself, since it goes between a 16 and a 20, but isn’t really completely on either. It was definitely solid though, and had a good number of rather difficult sections
    • 21 – Tough. Very tough. Started with a tough overhang and moved into an Arete (where you climb the outside of the edge of a rectangle). It took a lot of strength out of me, pretty much my entire days worth. But man it was worth it.
    • 20 – Guardian Angel – Jess’s project, I could definitely see why it was a project though… I finished it last in order to clear gear from it and the two routes nearby, but it was a CHALLENGE. Like… 5 or 6 falls with rests. Tough. But really good; though I wouldn’t want to lead it anytime soon. Funny part about this climb though, was that some guy had come around and double-bolted it. As in every time there was a bolt… there was a second one right next to it. I guess its intended to have full anchors at each section?
    • Dangers of rapelling with long hair – I got my dreads caught in the ATC again after cleaning the gear of the last route.  Thankfully I’m used to it at this point, and had my Pruissic rope on me.  So I just locked it on, ascended a foot or two, and was fine.  And this is why everyone should have a spare cord on their harness.

The 30th… a sad day, to be honest, since it was out last day climbing with Johaan and Rikke, though Jess and Hanna left early in the morning. Instead of rocking out a full day though, I met up with Johaan and Rikke near “The Fortress”, a giant boulder with some of the tougher overhanding problems on it. We warmed up nearby on some pretty easy routes before tackling the main conquest of the day… a route that followed up the inside of The Fortress at a 20 degree overhanging angle, give or take.

    • 15 – lead – light, with a real sketchy part between the first and second bolt. I rocked it like it was going out of style though, as a really good warmup to…
    • 19 – seconding Johaan – <Howling noises!!!> Damn but this climb was amazing. On The Fortress, it was a huge overhanging jug-fest where you burl and haul and drag yourself upwards. Great climb all throughout, and I go a full bat-hang in off a knee-bar about halfway up to rest. (Ed note: a bat-hang is where you hold on to the rock while upside-down, using only your feet and legs. A Knee-Bar is when you use the pressure between your knee and toe to hold onto the rock)