Vertical Limits’ assistant manager Erica Richards and manager James Scoltock with a climbing group from Nelson Intermediate School. Photo: Kate Russell.

Climbing to a new home


It’s the only climbing centre in the Top of the South, but it could be all reduced to rubble by the end of the year.

Vertical Limits on Vanguard St is on the hunt for a temporary home until they can build a brand-new centre.

The building which houses the much-loved facility was purchased by Gibbons Holdings late last year, who have plans to redevelop the site.

It was also home to the Salvation Army Family Store and Wills Auctions – but both have now moved to new locations.

Manager James Scoltock took over Vertical Limits two years ago and says he found out in December that their lease wasn’t going to be renewed.

He has since brought land at another Vanguard St location to build a brand-new climbing centre, but he says it would be “years away”.

“The building quotes are well in excess of $1 million – and we have no time, we’ve only got six months. Until then, we need to secure a lease on a temporary building which can house us.”

James says there is “real need” for them to keep operating a climbing facility in Nelson and they have been inundated with letters of support.

“There are a lot of people who believe in this place,” he says. “Not only do we have school groups who rely on us for their outdoor education classes, but there are community groups such a Big Brothers Big Sisters and Scouts who benefit too.”

During winter, they host 250 school kids a week from as far away as Blenheim, and they also have a “booming” after school kids club.

“We really believe in what we’re doing here. A big part of our business is about providing a space or for these schools and groups to go,” says James.

Despite the circumstances, James says the future for climbers in Nelson looks bright, with the idea of new centre being well supported by local business.

“Architects, engineers, electricians and plumbers have already offered their services for free or at a heavily discounted rate.”

He also says the new building would be more of an “outdoor centre” – not just a rock climbing facility.

It would meet Olympic standards with a 15m high speed wall. Currently there are none in Australasia.

“The other thing we want to build is a competition bouldering wall – there is only one in the country at the moment,” he says. “There’s definitely some talent here in Nelson we want to nurture.”

James says if there is anyone who can help them out with a temporary building or contribute to their new building, they can contact him on 0274636975 or email [email protected]

“Ideally it would be in Nelson City with a 7-9m height – but we can’t be fussy, we’ll look at anything, he says.

“Because of that time crunch, we’re just going to have to make do with what we’ve got.”