Coromandel Peninsula explored (Day 1)!

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.

Day 1 

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

2. Sunblock

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.

1000 steps, Kokoda Memorial Walk.

For those of you not quite in shape or familiar with Melbourne’s Kokoda Memorial Walk, I’m pretty sure I’ve already put you off by mentioning… 1000 steps! But, trust me, although I kinda died doing this, I’m so glad my other road trip plans got cancelled so that I could jump into the car with 4 other couch surfers to conquer this uphill (no pun intended) hike! Really thankful Declan organised this event, for I’m pretty sure, I wouldn’t have gone ahead for this hike on my own otherwise.

This popular spot in Dandenong Ranges is a tribute to Australian soldiers who fought and lost their lives in the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, in World War II. The exhaustion you feel when you reach the top is probably just a fraction of what those soldiers would have felt. Along the trail are plaques depicting, lives of some Australian soldiers, who died in the battle.

Happy faces BEFORE the climb!

   The beginning of….1000 steps

AFTERMATH!

 

Few things to note:

1. The incline is STEEP. So, have enough fluids with you! Unless, of course, you are sprinter/marathoner/etc.

2. Choose a good weather day. You don’t want to be stuck half way through the climb under scorching sun or wet weather. Also, weekend mornings are busy periods with runners, so late mornings or past mid-day would be advisable, if you’re planning on doing this hike at your own pace.

3. Wear proper shoes! I cannot emphasise this enough. It’s not a slope. Unless, of course, you are avoiding the steps and going the reverse direction. The usual way is to climb up via the steps and come back down via (rolling) down the slope. It’s about 4km and takes slightly over an hour for a person with average fitness level.

4. Sorry to disappoint you, but, there is absolutely no view from up there. There is no perfect Instagram worthy photo moment and such. It’s just the satisfaction of completing it that makes this hike memorable. So, don’t bother with heavy cameras while you’re climbing. It’s not going to be worth lugging at all, trust me.

5. Good news is, there aren’t 1000 steps, it’s just under 800. Yay?!

6. Walking 100m past the top of the trail you’ll be greeted with a cute little signboard. (refer to below image)

After completing the hike and catching your breath, heading to Sky High Mount Dandenong would be your best bet. Undeniably, Sky High offers one of the best views of Melbourne’s skyline. So, ending off the day (hopefully you are here during sunset) will be pretty awesome.

But, before enjoying the view at Sky High, I’ll suggest stopping by Pie In The Sky at Olinda for some piping hot meat pies. I’m not a big fan of meat pies, but they definitely have got some good stuff going on in there. So, be sure to stop by for dine in or take aways.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Shelly to North Head, conquered!

I still recall the afternoon I was cycling all the way past Manly only to find myself at Shelly beach. It was beautiful, looking at Manly’s skyline, from another vantage point. I’ll let the pictures do the talking .

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Shelly Beach

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Shelly Beach

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From the foot of the staircase leading up to North Head

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The path is quite uphill and covered with gravel. Some distances of the climb lacks proper signages, I did get lost. And at some points, I had to follow my instinct and pick a route to continue walking in. But, hey, what’s an adventure without some mis-adventures.

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Signs like these are life saviours indeed. #truestory

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After the gravel ridden path, you end up in this stretch of the climb which is quite easy to cover because of the raised metal floor. This area is just before you hit the road – which is kind of the last lap of the climb.

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Happy climber at North Head

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View from North Head

Going past the North Head, you have something called, Fairfax Walking Track, which is basically a 1km loop that brings you back to your starting point.

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Entrance of Fairfax walking track

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Sydney’s skyline

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This was how windy it was up from North Head!

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En route down to Shelly beach

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The descend down of course, was very much easier compared to the climb up. Entire climb took me slightly under 2 hours (including Fairfax walking track).

Highly recommend this scenic walk. Definitely one of my highlights during my trip.

If you have a longer span of time, you might want to cover The Spit which is a very popular scenic walk.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.