Tree Climbing Championships

23 October 2012

Forget your elegant oak, or your stately ash - there's a 140-year-old pine tree in the Wellington Botanic Garden that will be getting a lot of attention when New Zealand's best tree climbers arrive in town this weekend.

James Kilpatrick, 2011 national and Asia-Pacific champion, will defend his national title

James Kilpatrick, 2011 national and Asia-Pacific champion, will defend his national title

The Council's Tree Team Manager and competition coordinator, Julian Emeny, says a big pine on Remembrance Ridge has been selected to test the aerial skills of the country's finest arborists and "add a Wellington flavour to the event". The maritime pine (pinus pinaster) is 15 metres high with a 16-metre spread and was planted in 1871.

The annual Husqvarna New Zealand Arboricultural Association National Tree Climbing Championship will feature 35 arborists scaling trees up to 20 metres high. Five arborists from the Wellington region are among the finalists, including Wellington City Council arborists Nick Ellis and Tiago Miranda. Over two days, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October, the arborists will compete in five events - belayed speed-climbing, work climbing, aerial rescue, secured foot locking (climbing up a fixed line using your feet) and throw-line (throwing a weighted line high into trees to secure your climbing line). The top climbers (four male and four female) are competing for the chance to represent New Zealand for the world title in Toronto, Canada, next year.

It's not all serious though. On Saturday there will also be a chance for children to try their hand at tree climbing between 10am and 2pm.  The children will be under expert supervision and provided with harnesses to ensure their safety. A barbecue on Saturday will raise funds for the New Zealand Notable Tree Trust.  Saturday's events take place near the west entrance on Glenmore Street. For Sunday's events, including the Masters Challenge final and prize-giving on Remembrance Ridge, enter through the east entrance on Salamanca Road, near the Met Office.

The championship is a highlight of the New Zealand Aboricultural Association conference, which is on in Wellington. The competition will take place between 8am and 4.30pm and spectator entry is free.