Fiordland climbing wall becomes a reality

Fiordland Climbing Wall Project organisers Andrew Magness (left) and Vaughn Filmer, both of Te Anau, in front of the new climbing wall at the Fiordland Community Events Centre in Te Anau on Saturday.

A ‘FIORDLAND Climbing Wall’ project driven by two Te Anau men became a reality last

The wall was completed in the Real Journeys Fiordland Community Events Centre and will be fully operational in about two to three weeks.

The project was the brainchild of Andrew Magness and Vaughn Filmer, who, five years ago, approached the Fiordland Community Events Centre Trust with an idea to create a climbing wall on the outside of the stadium.

The idea was met with some enthusiasm but the risks were going to be difficult to manage, they said.

In 2019, they again approached the Trust with the idea to build a wall inside the stadium and the Trust agreed. Quotes were sought and, in mid-2019, fundraising started.

“The cost is $275,000 for the wall but a further $30,000-40,000 for equipment, engineering, etc. While another $5000-$10,000 to reposition the basketball hoop.

“We are currently at $265,000 with three grants still pending. We are still seeking support from local businesses keen to get involved,” they said.

“The community wanted it, the community supported it, and the community (almost) has it.”

Mr Filmer, a New Zealand outdoor rock climbing instructor and teacher at Fiordland College, said climbing had major benefits for health and well-being.

“Climbing is a full-body workout that requires mental fortitude and resilience and has proven positive effects on depression and anxiety. It is very social but some people choose to compete and is now an Olympic Sport.”

Mr Magness, of FEAR Society (Fiordland Endeavour and Adventure Racing), said having a weatherproof activity catering to a different sort of athlete than what other activities provided, was key in the push for a climbing wall.

“There is a bounty of world-class outdoor climbing surrounding Te Anau. Unfortunately, without a proper ground’, most climbers enjoying it come from elsewhere. Having the gym as a climbing hub and training centre will allow for the development of a climbing culture in our small town.

“Come back in five years and the number of very gifted climbers living in Te Anau will be more than a few,” Mr Magness said.

The wall had the same potential that bringing a swimming pool or tennis courts to the community had, with potentially 48 people being engaged at any time, Mr Filmer said.

“It caters for 4 years up to 94 years. If you can climb a ladder you can rock climb. There will be competitions, coaching, social climbing, and the opportunity for major events.”

There were 10 people signed up to complete climbing wall supervisor qualifications and at least another six local climbers helped with the wall build.

In the meantime, the paint has to dry for 10 days before putting on the ropes and holds. But for now, the Fiordland Community Events Centre is home to an absolutely spectacular piece of art, design and engineering.

“It really is quite breathtaking,” they said.