I’d seen some pictures online of a bouldering area near Queenstown that looked quite cool and after a bit of research I discovered it was the Jardines. Less than 15 minutes from Queenstown, on private land, there are a collection of schist boulders. There are no boulders before or after them and it’s slightly bizarre that these collection of good sized blocks exist. Something like a rare gift to the boulderers of Queenstown.
A very selected topo can be found online at Powerband, but there are plenty of other problems up there. I’d say there are around 40 problems, from v1 to v12. Upon first inspection I was really impressed. The rock is really unique for a bouldering venue and the situation is pretty incredible. The field in which the boulders sit rolls down into a lake and then rises into mountains on the other side of the valley [photo above]. The rock itself has vertical bands of schist which is also quite rare and it looks really cool. I was pretty excited to be honest as I like climbing things that look cool. After a few warmups it was time to seek out some problems from the guide.
First up was The Hit, a remarkably eliminate V8 which I think I might have done incorrectly (but which I’m equally sure made it harder). I wouldn’t normally thrash myself on an eliminate but it had some great holds and the crux move was a wonderful blend of power and control. It took me around 10-12 tries to stick the crux first move and campus my way to glory. It doesn’t normally take me so many tries to do a V8 which is why I think what I did is probably a bit harder. Then again it’s only a 1 move V8, so perhaps it is! The project sit start had some appeal but it was just too eliminate for me to fathom, even with detailed beta from ex-local strongman Sam Mangai.
How I pulled on The Hit, V8?
Higher up the hillside sits another impressive boulder. Wading through the head high fern, one line on the boulder stood out as we got ever closer: the striking arête of Possum, V8. It’s high enough to be “interesting” and the last move is a throw to what looked like a jug. My first go was an awkward series of incorrect foot placements but my second saw me latch the top jug and top out. It’s a great line and being the vain glory hunter that I am I repeated it next go for the camera. Hopefully the footage will make it look as good as it is. It’s always nice to do moves where you reach up with the RH from only a LH and LF hold, the RF only cutting a shape in the air to balance you through the move. I really like moves like that. For some reason they are really satisfying.
Last move of The Possum, V8
Following the wave boulder in a clockwise fashion the next arête is home to a V9 called Locked in the Basement. It’s verging on lowball [Ed: ok, it's actually lowball!] but has some really nice holds and I thought it was worth doing. I had a flash go but fell off due to an inaccurate heel placement, but felt confident enough that I’d do it next go to set up the camera for the send. Perhaps that was a bad omen because several attempts later I was still planted on the pad. The crux was supposed to be the firs move but that was easy. What felt hard was getting my heel on after the first move and now my skin was feeling thrashed. What was once a good grippy sloper now felt like a time bomb. If I didn’t get my heel on within 3 seconds I just slid off the hold. I had a now or never go and nailed the heelhook to pull my way to the top of the boulder. It’s only a small problem but the moves definitely make it worthwhile.
Locked in the
lowball basement, v9
There are several other problems of unknown name and grade which certainly looked worthwhile. I didn’t know at the time but there is a v12 on the wave boulder (to the right of The Possum) which was climbed by Sam Mangai. It may be a small area but I really like the Jardines. If you’re in Queenstown then it’s a must visit venue, and pretty much all roads on the south island pass through Queenstown! Queenstown can certainly lay claim to some decent bouldering and the similarly decent Fergburger. Both are must visits.