|By Graham Johnson
Jul 5, 2012
I know a fair bit about living, studying and climbing in NZ: I went to grad school at Otago, followed by vet school at Massey (North island) and now I'm headed back to work there in a few weeks.
Otago is for sure where you want to be. It's the best university, in the best student town/best city in NZ if you ask me, with good climbing nearby and better climbing further away.
How long are you going over for? Just a semester?
I would forget about multipitch climbing. There just isn't very much around in all of NZ. Think single pitch everything, sport, trad, even ice. If I were limited on weight (which I imagine you will be), I'd even forget the trad rack.
Crags 15-20 minutes from Dunedin:
Long Beach - mostly trad, good climbs, slick rock.
Mihiwaka - mostly trad, always wet, give it a miss...
Lover's Leap - basalt columns - lots of loose rock, trad, expando-cracks, scary/cool exposure.
Doctor's Point - sport, crumbly rock, but usually warm and sunny.
yes, there are places like the Darrans, Twin Stream, Remarkables, that have multipitch options. But 7 METERS (that's 21 feet) of rain/year in the darrans, a super long walk for twin stream mean it's more productive and fun to just hit the single pitch stuff that's more accessable. What sounds like a fun climbing trip: sitting in homer hut (Darrans NZAC hut) for a weekend in the rain after spending a few hundred dollars on gas or going to Wanaka for some single pitch sport routes in the sun, with good cafes nearby?
If you were serious about the climbing, I would honestly say fuck NZ and go to sydney or melbourne - the rock is AMAZING, the venues world class, girls are way hotter, weather is better, cities cooler (well sydney is, can't say for melbourne). Arapiles? Grampians? Blue Mountains? Mt. Buffalo? look those up and be impressed - more awesome climbing (trad, sport, mulipitch, whatever) than you can climb in a dozen lifetimes. USyd is an excellent school if you're interested in that sort of thing.
NZ, for all the time I've spent there, isn't really that great. Otago/Dunedin is for sure the best spot to be, but overall, it's a rainy, cold country with bad food and terrible weather. None of the climbing is remotely world class with the exception of castle hill (about 3 hours away from dunners). The ice is shit, the snow sucks (yes, even relative to the east - I was living in Burlington in between grad and vet school) and the weather is mostly terrible in the mountains.
Living: houses are uninsulated in all of NZ, and very few have heating. Be prepared to be frozen inside your house.
Girls...(if you're interested in that sort of thing...) are mostly kinda unathletic, ugly, terrible accents. Vs. Sydney girls - tan, fit, hot... Sydney also has a huge gay community, which stacks the odds in your favor whichever way you swing.
Feel free to PM me if you've got any questions or need any help at all.