I just spent the past 4 days exploring the entire Coromandel Peninsula and I must say, it was definitely a good start to my NZ adventure! Driving over 500km through valleys, mountainous areas and along the picturesque coastline felt so surreal and gave me more than a glimpse of how vast New Zealand is.
We begun the day at above 9am from Auckland and drove right through to Thames (about 1.5 hours away) and onward to Kauaeranga Valley Road to get some information from the visitor centre on the different hikes available through Coromandel Forest Park. The most popular hike is the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, also known as The Pinnacles Hike. But, please be warned, it’s a full day hike (7-8 hours return). For those who want to break this hike up, you can opt to put up at the Pinnacles Hut for a night before starting your descent. Accommodation is very basic (dorm bed) for $15/adult. Advisable to book in advance as it might get full during the summer months.
All smiles with Gregor, my company through Coromandel.
From the visitor centre, the Trestle View carpark (starting point of the hike) is a 20-minute drive through gravel road.
Note: The small store at the visitor centre is also the last stop for food/drinks. So if you’re looking to buy supplies for lunch/dinner, please stop by Pak & Save at Thames before driving down towards the forest park. And also, beyond Thames you won’t have mobile reception at all.
The picture on the left is the start of the Rock Staircase. The toughest section of the hike. The only way to get by is to go slow and keep going. After over 2 hours of trekking, we finally got to Pinnacles Hut and stopped by for a quick lunch before continuing on the Pinnacles. From the huts, the peak is about an hour away. Your path is over 200 steps and rocky boulders to cross.
View from The Pinnacles, elevation of about 770m.
On the descent down from the Pinnacles, you will arrive at a spot called Hydro Camp. There are 2 routes to exit. A 2-hour (via Billygoat Landing) and a 3-hour hike back. Be careful not to be stuck on the longer route back, if like me, your legs have already started crying.
If you are not staying the night at the Pinnacles Hut or camping, the nearest town for a hostel would be Thames. 2 backpacker options you could consider, Sunkist Backpackers (not the friendliest place) and Gateway Backpackers. I arrived back at Thames beyond 8pm and either reception was closed or rooms were full. I ended up sleeping in the car under the stars, without a shower. If you are not prepared for that, I suggest booking a room in advance.
Things to note/bring along for this hike:
1. Comfortable training shoes/hiking boots
3. At least 3-4 litres of water. It is a lot of weight to carry on, but, trust me you will need this. Otherwise, like me, you will end up filling up your bottle in a running stream. There are NO water points at all beyond the visitor centre.
4. Light food i.e. sandwhiches
5. Good spirits, otherwise, good company 😉
Have fun climbing guys!
All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.