Rock climbers fear health and safety will kill climbs

Rock climbers around the country are concerned changes to legislation will see the closure of access to some cliffs and rock faces.

The New Zealand Alpine Club fears adventurous Kiwis who love the outdoors will soon be banned from their favourite spots, such as a rock face at Titahi Bay.

For the past 80 years, climbers have been tackling the climb.

"This particular area is one of the places where rock climbing was first practiced in New Zealand," says NZ Alpine Club president-elect John Palmer.

Mountaineering legend Sir Graeme Dingle cut his teeth on the cliff, and countless others have learnt to climb here too.

Now its future is at risk.

"The Greater Regional Council is looking to put in place a management plan here and it could mean that climbing is closed," Mr Palmer says.

He says it's happening right across the country.

Organisations, land owners and managers are just too worried about the potential liability.

"They see climbing as a real risk and a risk that they don't see any reward for taking," Mr Palmer says.

Changes to the Health and Safety at Work Act are also making owners nervous.

Auckland Grammar has been advised by its lawyers to close off access to its rock wall.

"They got some external advice and the advice said there are risks here and you need to understand these risks and you've got to have a strategy to manage them," says rock climbing instructor Peter Cammell.

Mr Cammell believes climbers should be responsible for their own safety and the New Zealand Recreation Association agrees.

"Rock climbing is not particularly dangerous at all and the safety considerations around rock climbers are best managed by rock climbers themselves," says NZ Recreation Association advocacy manager Sam Newton.

They say they calculate all the risks, and there's hardly ever any need for an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.


Rock climbers fear health and safety will kill climbs