It was the walk that almost wasn’t – but the views from the top were worth overcoming all the personal hurdles.
Words: Justine Jamieson
It was an 8am start from the Kauaeranga Road end carpark. Straight off the bat my group started to walk briskly. I began to regret wasting precious energy enthusiastically singing and dancing in the car as well as eating the classic tearoom treats for breakfast on the drive.
After some fun on the Kauaeranga River swing bridge things got a tad more serious on the steep incline on Webb Creek track. As my heart rate started to thump around and the tearoom cake threatened to make an appearance, I contemplated telling the group that I was going back to the car to meditate beside the river for the day. Instead, I said to go on without me as I needed a slower pace.
After talking to myself about my feelings of abandonment, I was pleasantly surprised to catch up with the group sitting down and eating snacks off the track in the bush. The sun was shining on their heads like angels. A golden hand with M&M-filled scroggin reached out to me. I had a feeling my journey was going to become easier from here on. I find going with a group always lightens the spirits because there is always good banter or interesting chat to take you away from your body aches.
The walk itself is very rocky and uneven underfoot so I’d advise good boots, although some of our group were wearing sneakers. The track can also get slippery in parts near the river where we climbed steps cut into the rock, originally for the packhorses of the kauri-logging era.
From Hydro Camp junction, we took the Pinnacles Track, which climbs and sidles around a hill before following a more open ridge. With the most perfect weather for it, the views were magic towards the Tairua River and up to the rugged volcanic Tauranikau formations and the Pinnacles. We soon arrived at the large, fully serviced Pinnacles hut. It sleeps 80 people and even has cold showers and gas cookers. Very close by is the Dancing Camp Campsite that can host four tents. If you are up for the day, like we were, be sure to jump off the main track for a few minutes to look for the remains of the Dancing Camp Dam, built in 1921.
The ascent to the Pinnacles was a part crawl, part walk experience. We passed an older woman that was counting the steps – there are 400+. I was proud of her climbing the iron rungs up the rock to reach the final rocky summit.
I imagine it could be cold and windy up there, but on our day it was hot and the cool breeze was lovely. We perched on the rocks sheltered from any wind, and enjoyed a billy of tea and a late lunch while we took in the 360-degree breathtaking views over the Coromandel ranges, beaches, Firth of Thames and Hauraki Plains. We stayed up there for hours enjoying ourselves on the rocks and relaxing in the sun.
The walk down was long as we had to be careful on the rocks. Just as the light began to fade, we were all craving a soak in the nearby hot pools of Te Aroha. I do suggest making a booking at Te Aroha hot pools earlier in the day, or the day before, as you may miss out.
Located in Coromandel Forest Park and Kauaeranga Valley in the Coromandel region. It can be completed as a day or overnight walk. Pinnacles lookout 759 metres. Intermediate level.