Edwin Sheppard climbing Badlands, Whanganui Bay
Photo by Edwin Sheppard climbing Badlands, Whanganui Bay

A leap for rock climbing access

Aotearoa Climbing Access Trust (ACAT) has officially hired their first general manager, Edwin Sheppard to lead the organisation. Edwin is an experienced climber with a legal background in resource management, health and safety and dispute resolution. He has been a key part of ACAT’s development since its inception.

This is the first time anyone has ever been paid to work specifically on rock climbing access issues in New Zealand and is a massive step towards reversing the trend of crag closures.

Edwin has already contributed to many of ACAT’s wins, including:

  • The climbers’ purchase of Waipari (formerly Froggatt Edge) is a historic win for the climbing community.
  • Successfully advocating for climbing to continue in Auckland and Waikato under the level 3 lockdown in 2021.
  • Developing a strong policy team advocating for climbers on national issues. 

Edwin wants to create a strong voice for climbers at the national level and start to legitimise climbing as a valuable recreational activity. On a local level, he’s hoping to help ACAT prevent further crag closures and do more to care for the environment and positively connect with local communities.

In the past, climbing has been a fringe activity and often under-the-radar. With the recent growth in the sport, that isn’t possible anymore, so we need to be proactive about forging positive relationships with iwi, farmers, local communities, and public bodies.

It’s a big ask, but we think climbers have a brilliant, vibrant community with a lot to offer, says Edwin. By becoming more proactive and putting in sustained effort, ACAT can give back to the places and communities that host rock-climbing access and ensure a warm welcome for climbers throughout Aotearoa.

You can donate to ACAT to help them achieve sustainable funding and create sustainable climbing access.