New owner of Vertical Limits, James Scoltock, is aiming to make the indoor climbing centre more ‘family-friendly’. Photo: Kate Russell.

Vertical Limits taken to new heights


Hidden away in an old Vanguard St warehouse is Nelson’s only indoor climbing centre – and it now has a new owner, new opening hours and a new family-friendly attitude.

James Scoltock, who took over ownership of Vertical Limits in October, has brought back the facility from “rock bottom”, thanks to the help of a core group of dedicated volunteers.

After being under the same ownership for 13 years, the facility struggled under its new brief ownership with a donation-based payment system and a not-so-family-friendly atmosphere.

But all that has changed, and although James has come from a building background, he’s always been a climber, working at overseas summer camps and running outdoor education programmes for youth.

Their ‘kids club’, which has been brought back due to popular demand, is “booming”, with more than 30 kids enjoying a revamped kid’s area to cater for all levels and to encourage progression.

“The kids club has just exploded – we had lots of people asking for it,” says James.

“We just let them go for it and we move around teaching them skills and pairing them up. Some of the kids here are really good, it’s insane.”

Other changes include ripping out the old bouldering cave and creating a new reception area with a well-stocked retail shop. They now also facilitate corporate groups and kids’ birthday parties, which are proving to be popular.

“We’ve just tried to present it better and we’ve had really good feedback about it being more family-friendly,” says James.

“The other things we’ve tried to push hard is pricing, we’re the second cheapest indoor climbing facility in New Zealand and we are now offering memberships, or concessions of 10 which can save you 20 per cent. We’ve got over 100 members now which is really exciting.”

And all the changes must be working, as school and group bookings at pouring in, with schools coming from as far as Blenheim to use the 700 square metres of climbing surface, with over 100 climbing routes.

James is also hopeful that they can reinstate the Top of the South secondary schools climbing champs, which was canned earlier this year.

“The other cool thing is that we have the Nelson-based NZ under 18 champs train here – it’s the only place they can do it,” he says.

“We’re hidden away, but we’re here.”

You can find Vertical Limits at 34 Vanguard St, behind the Salvation Army Family Store. Opening hours are: weekdays from 3pm – 9pm, Saturdays from 12pm – 6pm and Sundays 12pm – 4pm. During the Christmas holidays they will be open weekdays from 12pm – 6pm, and  regular hours in the weekend.