Castledowns rock climbing area has good scope for top roping beginnerís, leading and there is also huge potential for bouldering.

It appears that Castledowns is rediscovered on a regular basis. People have been climbing in the area since the dark ages (70ís). Notable visitors being Calum Hudson, John Dale & Merv English. Some of the rust on bolts points to some development at this time.

It was the appearance of Jo Kippax & drill that was responsible for most of the climbs you will find in this guide. Other contributors to development have been the late Andrew (Andy) MacFarlane, Al Ritchie & John McCartney. School & youth groups also use the crag.

bulletRoutes - About 50, some have only a single top bolt anchor
bulletGrades - 12 to 23
bulletCliff Heights - 5 to about 25m
bulletRock Type - limestone
bulletProtection - Fixed (Bolts)
bulletGuide Book - 
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Castle downs is located approximately 15 km northwest of Dipton, in Southland.(see Map) The crag

All the climbs are on private land. The owner is Stephen Clearwater & he can be contacted on 03 2485057 or 025 301360. Steven is climber friendly and is happy for people to use the climbing area as long as they respect his property & stock. Note: The area is closed for lambing in September.

There is a toilet located near the bend in the road, but no water supply, please prepare accordingly. Park clear of any farm access & remember to remove all rubbish when you luave. The farmer will take no responsibility and accept no liability for damage to persons or property whilst climbing or accessing climbs. Do not camp on the property. NO dogs allowed.

Climbers access finishes at the farmers yards.

The impressive limestone outcrops on the ridgeline to the south of the crags are owned by Ravensdown Fertiliser and are OUT OF BOUNDS.

If the route is not described in the guide it may be an incomplete project bolted on top rope. Help yourself and report the findings to the authoer of the guide please. The rock on some climbs is loose & crumbly. Beware of pocket holds as birds nest in some & opossums have been found in others!

The flats near the creek can be quite wet especially in winter.

Warning: Castledowns is home to OngaOnga Stinging nettle. Itís vicious stuff. Beware!!!


The quality of rock varies from crumbly to very gritty & solid with protection typically in the form of 12mm x 120mm galvanised coachhead bolts hammered into 11mm holes or, 12mm x 100mm Galvanised Tru-bolts. Most bolts have two links of 5/16 chain attached for clipping.  There are some commercial stainless hangers.

The top anchors are a variety of either single or double bolt anchors with links of 5/16 chain attached. during Feb 2001 some of the more popular routes were equipped with 5/16 Galvanised chain & lowering shackles.  

You can expect to find a number of incomplete projects (some long since abandoned) and there is the potential for still more development.

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Copyright Steven Riddell 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003.