Kauaeranga Kauri Trail – Pinnacles Track – Coromandel Forest Park

Pinnacles ladders

Kauaeranga Kauri Trail – The Pinnacles Track

The track up to the Pinnacles in the Coromandel Forest Park, is one of my favourite local hikes. I usually make it up and back in a day walk of under 6 hours, at a very leisurely pace with at least an hour or so at the top. The Web Creek track starts from the Kaueranga Road end via the Hydro Camp. There are a couple of alternatives – including a return via the Billy Goat Track, which adds an hour or so to the return journey, or you can make it an overnighter, and stay at the Pinnacles hut.

This was the first time I had been up the Kauaeranga Valley since some heavy flooding and slips blocked parts of the road and tracks a year or so ago, so I was interested to see how everything was looking. I drove around 13kms up Kaueranga Valley Road to the DOC Visitor Centre, via the (mostly) sealed road. It is definitely worth a stop at the visitor centre, for information on the local area, walking tracks, wildlife and much more. Past the visitor centre it was another 9km drive on unsealed road, which was in excellent condition. The repairs from the flood event was evident with new bridges and reinforced sections. I drove past the numerous campsites and parked at the Kauaeranga Valley road end.

Kauri Dieback

Before entering the forest to head up the Pinnacles, I stopped at the new cleaning station to wash off my shoes. This prevents the spread of Kauri dieback disease which is sadly killing our beautiful native Kauri trees. This area was logged of most of its Kauri in the past (for use in the gold mining industry nearby). This makes it even more important to protect what we have now. Once clean, I headed off up the trail.

Kauaeranga Road end
Kauaeranga road end and cleaning station

The walk to the Pinnacles hut is a moderate uphill walk and varies from being a wide and beautifully formed gravel track, to a long stretch of stone steps, to a rutted and washed out stony track. On this occasion it wasn’t very muddy, and there were only a few little river crossings, some swing bridges and alternative flood detour track options.

Webb Creek Track
A nice easy start along the Webb Creek Track
Pinnacles swingbridge
A beautiful new swingbridge over one of the slip areas

There were a couple of sections where the recent flooding was particularly evident, and in one case a warning of a still-unstable area.

Evidence of recent washouts

Stone steps
The beautiful stone steps through the forest

Rest Area

If you need a rest on the way up to the Pinnacles, you can stop at the ‘Hydro Camp’ area, and from there it’s around 30 minutes to the Pinnacles hut. This section was less steep, more undulating and has some great views across to the rocky outcrops of the Pinnacles. It took me an hour and forty minutes at an easy pace to reach the hut from the car park.

Towards Hydro Camp
Towards Hydro Camp

Pinnacles Hut

The Pinnacles hut is a serviced 80 bed Doc hut (a palace compared to most huts) and booking are essential. On this weekend in early Spring the hut was fully booked on both Saturday and Sunday night.

Pinnacles views
First views of the Pinnacles after the Hydro Camp

To the summit

From the hut was a short slog up the final stretch of steps to the rocky pinnacles. I’ve been up here before in a howling gale, and have had to resort to crawling on my hands and knees before being forced by the weather to turn back. Thankfully, today the conditions were perfect.

Pinnacles ladders
A glimpse of one of the ladders
Climbing Pinnacles
Ladders at the top of the Pinnacles

The final section is the most exciting part of the trail. It involved climbing several vertical, exposed ladders, and scrambling up, over and through rocky sections. In some places iron rungs are bolted into the rocks for your convenience. If you don’t have a head for heights, you’ll need to take this part slowly 🙂

Climbing the ladders
Climbing one of the ladders

There are spectacular views from the 759m Pinnacles summit. The perfect lunch spot is on the main platform. This faces the coast and is sheltered from the wind.

Pinnacles hut
Looking back to the Pinnacles hut from the summit

It is also possible to scramble up and over the rock to get a view from the very top of the Pinnacles themselves. It’s well worth the effort. There are excellent views across the mountains and the bush to the Eastern Coromandel coastline, and down into the Bay of Plenty.

Views to the coast from the Pinnacles summit
Views to the coast
Summit views
Summit views

I ate my lunch and chatted to the other trampers at the top. While I was at the summit, I saw around 15 other people come and go.

Views over Coromandel Forest Park
Views over Coromandel Forest Park

I took a slow walk back via the same track, but an alternative is to take the Billy Goat track on your return. During my descent I passed the masses who were going up to stay at the hut that night.

Once down, I cleaned my shoes again at the cleaning station before the car park and then slowly headed home.

If you’re making the trip in summer the DOC Brochure details some extra, shorter walks in the Kauaeranga Valley. Be sure to stop in at the Hoffman’s Pools swimming hole on the way back for a bracing dip!!

More details on things to do in the Kauaeranga Valley can be found here.

Rocky outcrops of the Pinnacles
Rocky outcrops of the Pinnacles

Comments

  1. tinytramper says:

    Hi Will, no I haven’t seen that list, but yes, I’d have thought the Pinnacles track is safer for solo female trampers given it’s so popular. I’ve never felt unsafe hiking on my own anywhere – it’d be a long list if I was writing it 🙂

  2. will says:

    Hey.. great to finally see some other blogs covering my local turf.. give me something to read other than proof reading my own! lol…. I recently saw a list of “hikes most safe for women on here own”… and the listed the billy goat track (??) instead of the pinnacles track?? have you seen this list.. I didn’t even know there was such a list – let alone choose the billy goat track!

  3. Leah W says:

    This was the very first overnighter I did with my husband 🙂 excited for when my kids will be up for doing the same!

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