By Bruce Quirey, Otago Daily Times
The only way is up for three climbers opening an indoor bouldering gym in central Dunedin.
Angus Kirk, Mike Simpson and Nathan Campbell are avid outdoor and indoor climbers. Mr Simpson and Mr Campbell are long-time Dunedin mates. For more than 20 years they have climbed crags throughout in the South Island, from bouldering to alpine routes. Mr Kirk, from Wellington, is the young blood of the trio. A former ski patroller in Wanaka, he has been climbing for 10 years.
“I just really wanted to open a climbing gym,” he said.
He came to Dunedin two years ago specifically to do just that. Looking for business partners, he “fell upon” Mr Simpson and Mr Campbell at their Room 14 Bouldering centre in Stuart St. Room 14 was a bouldering wall for adults, which closed this month. The trio has been making plans for the past 18 months to scale new heights in the Dunedin recreation scene. The result is Resistance Climbing Gym, at 27 Moray Pl, which they hope to open in March.
Climbing walls are increasing in popularity around the country. Dunedin was the last big city in New Zealand not have to a commercial bouldering wall, they said.
“Seeing the growth in the sport in the last 10 years, it’s crazy how busy it’s getting,” Mr Kirk said. “It is good timing for us.”
Mr Simpson said climbing had evolved and become an Olympic sport. Indoor climbing walls were once a place where climbers could practise for outdoors. But indoor climbing had come into its own as a sport. Designing for the gym started about February last year. Mr Campbell said the lockdown put a big gap in the project.
“We were supposed to be signing our lease a couple of days before Covid happened,” he said.
Construction began in December, after building consent was granted. Mr Simpson said the new gym would be 400sqm, about six times larger than Room 14. More parkour elements in climbing meant bouldering gyms needed a lot of space.
“It’s not just going through vertically,” he said. “You are moving through lots of hanging angles.”
The trio wanted to make climbing accessible to all ages. The climbing wall was built by Christchurch climbing gym Uprising. It has been installed by the trio with help from tradespeople. Mr Campbell said they had been looking for a building in Dunedin for some time. Eventually landlord Nick James, of Otago Real Estate, provided the former Temperance Hall building in Moray Place. “Nick really has supported us a lot,” Mr Campbell said.
The building was most recently used as the Manhatten Lounge and had been vacant for about five years. All three co-owner have fulltime jobs outside of the gym. They will be employing a fulltime gym manager and five casual part-time staff.