Climbers take to the trees

JENNA HOUGHTON
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014
Nicky Ward-Allen
ANDY JACKSON/ Fairfax NZ
CLIMBING HIGH: Nicky Ward-Allen.

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Despite wet and slippery conditions, tree climbers flocked to Stratford for a little competition.

The Taranaki Open Tree Climbing competition was held at King Edward park yesterday, drawing 37 climbers from Taranaki, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Japan and England.

The event was put on by local arborist and world title-holder Nicky Ward-Allen, who also took to the trees in some events.

"Everyone had a great day of fun, and there was an awesome prize table. People are already talking about next year," she said.

Climbers competed for $3000 worth of prizes, in work climbs, aerial rescues, speed climbing, foot locking and throw line events.

Italian Giovanni Ugo took home the overall title and a Husqvarna chainsaw, while others received climbing gear, cash or vouchers.

The skies opened and rain poured down on Stratford, but the national champ said it didn't deter climbing.

"It makes it more difficult once trees become slippery, but every one stayed until the end. It's a little less fun, but everyone was still smiling."

The weather did, however, have an unfortunate impact on the number of spectators present.

"There was a small crowd. Some people came down especially, people who had read about it, but we were counting on dog walkers and people down for a swim," she said.

The inaugural Taranaki Tree Climbing Film Festival was a success, with about 90 people turning up to the TET King's Theatre in Stratford on Friday to watch 15 short films.

Ms Ward-Allen said both the film festival and open climb will go ahead again next year, and King Edward Park will be the likely host for the fifth year.

"We live in Eltham so Stratford is easy for us to travel to, and the Stratford District Council are very good to deal with."

Following a night of movies and a day of climbing, competitors congregated at Ms Ward-Allen's house for a wind down. "We have three acres, so they're camping here. It's time to just kick back and relax."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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