Queenstown's Dry Tooling Crags- Pink Palace & The Den of Iniquity

Queenstown is quickly becoming a ‘must go’ destination for alpine pursuits. With the Remarkable's range a mere 45 minutes drive from the centre of town, within an hour and a half you can be scratching your way up rock, snow and ice in true alpine fashion.

With the yearly Ice and Mixed festival in August, along with great ice and mixed climbing in the surrounding ranges, Queenstown is gathering a good collection of climbers looking to get out in the hills and pry their way up the surrounding peaks. Myself included.

But as we all know, the weather doesn't always play ball.

So what to do when it's snowing a blizzard way up high or the rain won’t stop for days?

Dry tooling!

Don’t know what that is? Have a look at this post:

What Is Dry Tooling? And Why Do People Do It?

Where to start:

Parking can be found HERE.

The following crags are easily accessed by walking from Jardine Park in Kelvin Heights along a well maintained gravel track.

Simply walk through the obvious track entrance and along the gravel path and use the Google maps links and the photos below for each areas specific location and entry. The furthest crag (Pink Palace) is about 15-20 minutes walk.


► All climbs contain perma draws and clip through anchors. Take 1-2 quickdraws anyway as one climb (Chuck it in Bro) needs a quickdraw for the first bolt.

► Some climbs have the holds drilled. The ethic is to NOT drill any more. Please respect this!

► Be aware of loose rock in some places. Wear a helmet at both crags!

► As the climbs all have perma draws, so don't let grades put you off trying harder climbs. Take the usual precautions for leading but if you are hesitant to go on lead, just use your safety (or a long quickdraw) and clip in to the bolt, then clip the rope through the next one until you reach the anchor. Most bolts are spaced close enough to do this. You can then reverse the rope end for a top rope setup! I can confirm this works for most climbs though some require a bit of stretching, and I do have long arms!


This was the first dry tooling crag I checked out. Nestled against Lake Wakatipu a short stones throw away, this is the smaller of the two crags and the closest.

Exposed to more of the wind and rain, the routes climb OK and are well protected. I was quickly reminded of how different dry tooling is to regular rock climbing. With most holds being the horizontal crystal veins in the schist, its hard work trusting your placements when you are new to dry tooling.

Filled with perma draws, even if you have never dry tooled before, you can get to the top of almost every climb as the spacing between bolts is nice and close, so just reach up and clip the next one or just lower off on what you can't finish.


Google maps link HERE. (GPS: -45.052042,168.700158), 10 minutes walk from car park.

Above: The blasted rock face means you are close! Just another 15 meters along the track.


The way to the base of the crag is located on the right side (looking out to the water) and in amongst some bushes (see above photo). There is a rock step that leads to a short, steep track down.

The routes from left to right are:

1) Chuck it in Bro- M4+ 4 bolts

2) The Inseminator- M5 (5 bolts)

3) Man Boy Love- M6 (7 bolts)

4) Awesome Foursome- M8+ (7 bolts)

5) A Gentleman of Disrepute- M8 (4 bolts)


This is the better one, in my opinion.

A larger space and level ground makes for a good hangout and training session, plus its quite sheltered from rain and wind. You can easily boulder along the bottom for those solo training days.

Starting on the right with the easiest climb, I quickly overcame my hesitation of the tools popping off with the same close spacing of bolts as found on the other crag.

And the more dry tooling you do, the better you will get after all!

I tried the middle climbs with their intimidating overhangs. Big reachy moves, some of which required some thought and technique to execute, made for an enjoyable time.


Google maps link HERE. (GPS: -45.053951,168.706816), 15-20 minutes walk from car park.


Look for the rock painted pink and the faint trail leading up. The crag is behind all the trees and is not visible from the gravel track.

Routes from left to right are:

1) Sink the Pink- M7 (5 bolts)

2) The G man loves my pink bits- M7 (5 bolts)

3) Rub it till it's pink- M6 (5 bolts)

4) Pink Panther- M3 (2 bolts)

5) Pleasure palace- M5 (3 bolts)

6) Little pink holes- M5 (3 bolts)

Traverse along the bottom: Circumnavigating the Pink- M7

So next time in Queenstown and you are looking up longingly at The Remarkables range swamped in some ‘not so friendly conditions’, check out the local dry tooling crags and get in an alpine workout!


Also, a big thanks to the NZ Alpine team who have the beta for these locations on their website. You can view the site HERE and also follow their blog and adventures HERE.


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The environment is under threat from human impact! For your enjoyment and for future generations, please LEAVE NO TRACE! Respect natural places and leave them clean. You can learn more about the leave no trace principles HERE.