About our sport – Sport Climbing

NOTE: Content on this page was updated in August 2021, and provides some context for Climbing New Zealand’s Strategic Plan development


Climbing New Zealand (CNZ) is the National Sport Organisation (NSO) administering Sport Climbing in New Zealand. CNZ is a member of Sport New Zealand (Sport NZ). CNZ is a member of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) and the IFSC Oceania Council for Sport Climbing (OCSC). Sport Climbing is an Olympic Sport from Tokyo 2020 and CNZ is therefore a member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC). We have a development relationship with High-Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ).


“The mission of Climbing New Zealand is to foster the growth and promotion of sport climbing for New Zealanders.  This includes promoting climbing as an exciting, vibrant and safe sport, increasing opportunities for participation and raising the standard of climbing so climbers can be competitive on the world stage.”

Vision Statement

High Performance Sport Climbing

Climbing New Zealand Membership

Sport Climbing in New Zealand has Climbing New Zealand (CNZ) as the National Sports Organisation (NSO) and there are 7 regional clubs that are affiliated members of Climbing New Zealand. CNZ is managed by a Management Committee of 4 Executive positions and 6-8 ordinary members representing the affiliated clubs. All roles within CNZ are voluntary.

There have been no changes to affiliated clubs in the term of the last strategic plan (since 2016), with the exception of Wanaka who dropped their Affiliated status to become a Observer member in 2019.

About Sport Climbing in New Zealand

Sport Climbing in New Zealand is a growing both as a recreation and as well as a competitive sport. We are aware of the growing interest in climbing as a recreation, for some climbing takes the place of the more traditional exercise gym, for others it is their primary recreation and sport. This growth is being lead and supported by new climbing facilities especially new bouldering gyms.

The growth of the sport in youth is being encouraged with participation to school competitions and the success of climbing at the AIMS games for 11-13 year olds.

Climbing New Zealand directly supports the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council (NZSSSC) sanctioned Secondary Schools Championships each year.

Climbing New Zealand runs the National Championship series, including National events for Speed, Bouldering and Lead climbing. The Lead climbing event also includes para-climbing categories.

Beyond the national events, CNZ affiliated clubs run or support a range of local, schools and regional climbing events.

Commercial gyms provide the climbing facilities to allow competitions to take place, are often a base for clubs to operate and support the climbing programmes that are at the entry or grassroots of the sport.

Facilities and clubs provide coaches and mentors to support our youth climbers as they develop there climbing skills.

Climbing New Zealand also support our competitive climbers to compete internationally. Climbing New Zealand selects a New Zealand Youth Team each year to compete overseas. In recent years we have competed regularly in Australian National events, two Oceania events and have regularly sent a Team to compete at IFSC World Youth Championships (the last team of 15 athletes competed in Arco, Italy in 2019).

The pinnacle of recent success came via the Youth Olympics. After being selected at the Oceania Championships in 2017, Sarah Tetzlaff competed at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in 2018.

In 2017, 2018 and 2019 we have had a small number of Open athletes compete at selected IFSC World Cups events, in Asia, North America and Europe.

We had athletes compete in the last 2 World Championships in 2018 and 2019, as well as having para-climbing athletes compete at the Para-climbing Championships in 2018 and 2019. The highlight was in 2018 when Rachel Maia made a para-climbing final and finishing in 4th place.

In December 2020 we had 2 athletes compete in the Covid-19 impacted Oceania Olympic qualification event in Sydney, Australia. Oceania was represented by 2 Australian climbers at Tokyo 2020.

About the Sport Internationally

The international governing body for Sport Climbing is the International Federation for Sport Climbing (IFSC) See https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/about-us

Internationally climbing has a rapidly growing profile, particularly with sport climbing having its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020 and now being confirmed as a sport (with expanded categories and athlete numbers) for Paris 2024. Paris 2024 will provide separate medals for Speed and for combined Lead and bouldering.

The growth internationally is resulting in changes to the Sport’s structure and is likely to result in changes to the Sport at a continental level. IFSC has indicated reduced access to World Cup events from 2022, but the potential establishment of second tier and continental events that will provide world ranking points.

One positive action and a current focus for the IFSC is the planning for para-climbing and working toward IOC recognition and the aim to be a full para-Olympic sport in time for Los Angeles 2028.

Sport Climbing in New Zealand in 2020 and 2021

With Covid-19 impacting social interactions and sporting events in 2020, and limiting international travel in 2021, we will go a full two years without any significant international competitions. The impact of this gap in opportunities to travel and compete and how this may affect climbing in 2022 and beyond is uncertain.

We did manage to complete our revised 2020-2021 season successfully with a big turnout for the final two events for Speed and Lead.

We have not been able to send athletes to the Youth World Championships or Open World Championships in 2021.

Changes to our competition season

In 2020 we undertook a major review of our selection policy in an attempt to provide a fairer and more transparent policy and selection process for all. As a result of this policy review, we also reconsidered the time of our National Championship events and this resulted in us opting to change of Championship season from May to September to September to April. This change allowed us to have our athletes compete in their “next international season” age group through the National Championship events. This simplified the selection process and reduced complexity for our selectors. We are still to complete a full selection cycle so too early to fully endorse the changes.

Results and Rankings

Results from all National events are used to calculate National Rankings. Results for all CNZ National events are available here. The results are also available live to track progress during the events (Chrome browser is recommended).

More Background

Our constitution and current strategic plan are available here.