Welcome to the Tongan Rock web site where you can find all the information you need to plan a climbing trip to this beautiful island.
Expect an adventurous sport climbing holiday. Crags are not family friendly. Climbing is a new activity for ‘Eua (“Ay-wuh”) island, so local infrastructure will take time to adapt to increasing climber demand. Please adjust your expectations accordingly. You won’t have air conditioning, might have cool showers and tracks are not always easy to follow. But its awesome, so come prepared.
Currently there are more than 50 climbing routes, half of which are multi-pitch, so ~80-90 pitches of climbing to be enjoyed here.
The majority of climbing is on the King’s estate and access is a privilege granted by the King’s Office, not a right. An access arrangement has been negotiated but could be withdrawn at any time by the King’s Office.
Before climbing on ‘Eua, all climbers must register at Ovava Tree Lodge. During registration climbers must agree to the Disclaimer and the Climber’s Code of Conduct. You will not be welcome to climb until after you agree with these terms.
There is a T$20 climbers registration fee and an admin fee of T$5. This is a one off payment per trip.
Our Story – the ‘Climb Eua’ Film
Australian film maker Brett Williams tells our story well in his new 18 minute film.
The main climbing area is on the King’s estate at Fangatave Beach, at the north-eastern end of the island. A few routes have also been established at Olu, Houmatahi and Laku’fanga.
Eua is a small island (20 x 8 kms), but feels much larger if you’re walking about. There are crags on all sides of the island, so you’ll need some form of local transport while you’re here. Options are:
Bring or hire bikes. 8-10 km each way.
Taxi rides from your accommodation provider. Approx T$10 each way.
Hire a car. Approx T$90/day. Don’t expect a fancy car.
Hitchhiking. Good fun but not reliable.
Motorbikes – will hopefully be available for hire in 2019…
Make sure you have a printed guide or save the pdf on your phone. Ideally you should have an offline map app on your phone also, that already has the OpenStreepMap cached. This is the online map we keep updated.
Details on accessing particular crags is as follows:
The Fangatave cliffs are at the southern end of the beautiful Fangatave beach near the north east end of the island. Camping is forbidden here.
There are three access options. The beach track is the ideal way to first approach these walls, but its not the fastest. Local fishermen may visit the crags. Please do not tempt them by leaving gear unhidden.
Beach track: Get dropped off at the water tanks, then walk north across farm land, closing two gates behind you, to locate the beach track which starts at the north end of the cliff line (10-15 mins). Descend the rough track to the beach then wander back south towards the cliffs. About 50 metres after the sand ends some fishing buoys and a thick ship rope can be seen hanging on the rock, marking the start of the access route up to the crag (15-20 mins). Scramble up the rock terrace and follow the buoys through a cave and forest to the crag (10 mins from beach). The point at which you arrive at the crag is known as the “Whale Wall”.
Lookout track: Get dropped off at the Anokula lookout, which looks over the area south of Fangatave beach. Walk back to the first bend in the road, and find a rough track. Follow this, scrambling down through a band of rock to arrive at the Fa wall in about 15 minutes.
Whale wall rap line: Walk to the Fangatave lookout point, where you’ll find a tourist sign funded by the NZ government. Rap the gully, followed by a short traverse to another rap station. There are some bolts on the right-hand side at the top of the gully. You may want to fix a line for the duration of your stay, but do not trust fixed line you find. It may be easier to find and ascend the gully, which is located about 100m uphill from the Whale wall. 15 mins to Whale wall from the water tanks.
Olu and Houma Tahi Beaches
At low or mid tide only, follow the track marked on OpenStreetMap here, then walk north up Olu beach for 10 mins to an obvious crag featuring lovely tufa lines. To get to Houma Tahi beach continue another 10 minutes up the coast or at high tide use the next track north.
Please note: Olu beach is often marked incorrectly on maps as Kapa beach).
Climbing was recently established here by North Face athletes Angie Scarth-Johnson and Lee Cossey. The crag is located on the north side of the Bowl of Cliffs and has four routes graded between 23 to 30. To get there, first get a lift to Laku fa’anga and walk north up an obvious track used by the semi-wild horses there. You’ll walk right over Maui’s arch which you’ll probably want to view via a short sign-posted track on the left. If you keep walking in 10 minutes you’ll arrive at the Bowl of Cliffs. Walk to the north side of the Bowl and look for rappel bolts. Rap down this to a second stage rappel. Leave a rope fixed and take ascenders so you can get back out.
Bolts and anchors
All bolts are titanium 80-110mm x 10mm glue in P-style ring bolts. The bolts are manufactured in China and so far all seem to be of high quality. We have stress tested these bolts over a long duration to 12kN with no noticeable distortion. In a destructive test the bolts fail at about 29kN.
The adhesive used in 2016 and 2017 was Hilti HIT-HY 200 R. In 2018 Hilti HIT-HY170 was also used. If you see red glue it is HIT-500v3. Route development
New route development is being coordinated by the Kaka Maka Group. If you want to develop new routes please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to contribute towards bolting and route development you cvan make donations to the Kaka Maka (NZ) bank account: 12 3153 0121544 50
To ensure climbers can enjoy this special place it is critical that climbing is supported by the local community. To help achieve this the Kaka Maka Group has been formed as a partnership between climbers, the Kings Office and the Eua Tourism Association. The Kaka Maka Group is working with locals to develop ‘Eua as an international climbing destination and is the central point of contact for all climbing related queries and issues.
Best time to visit
The best time to climb in Tonga is during the Southern hemisphere’s winter, from the start of June to August. Happily, each year Whales arrive sometime around mid-June and stay till early October, so keep that in mind if you want to swim with these curious cetaceans.
The shoulder season of April to May or September to October are warmer, but still cool enough to climb if you stick to shadey aspects, but expect hot and humid conditions from November to March.
The beautiful island of ‘Eua is just a 10 minute flight or 3 hour ferry from Nuku’alofa, which itself is just 3 or 4 1/2 hours flight from Auckland or Sydney respectively. Alternatively, you can fly to Nuku’alofa from Fiji or Samoa.
Visitors from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, UK, US and most of Europe are NOT required to apply for a visa to enter Tonga. A 31 day vistor’s visa will be issued upon arrival, free of charge and this can be extended for up to six months.
All the accommodation outlets can provide meals, currently there are only a couple of small restaurants on Eua. A number of Chinese owned shops sell a limited range of foods, snacks and other essentials.
Health and Safety
Climbing is inherently dangerous; all climbers must take responsibility for their own safety.
Climbers should note that there are no rescue facilities on Eua and nobody locally with the skills to conduct a rescue operation. In the event of an accident parties would need to self rescue.
There are only limited medical facilities on Eua and only a small hospital, so it is recommended that parties carry a comprehensive first aid kit and have the knowledge to use it.
Sundays and Church
Each Sunday almost all Tongans attend one of the many Churches on the island and all businesses are closed. You’ll still be able to get a meal from your accommodation provider, but don’t count on exchanging money for anything else, anywhere else on the island. Plan ahead and stock up on supplies Saturday night!
Eua offers adventurous visitors a wide range of activities and opportunities to explore: