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The Coromandel Pinnacles of New Zealand: Hundreds of Steps in Rock

Published
November 9, 2020
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MY MOTHER fell in love with theKauaeranga Valley near Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula, and decided to move there from Hastings in 1980. I did heaps of walks in the area right through the ‘80s and into the ‘90s.

I tramped the Pinnacles Walk, also called the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, for the first time in the 1980s and have since done it about ten times since.

The Coromandel Pinnacles are near the centre of this rugged area of the lower Coromandel Peninsula, the Firth of Thames at left. Map data ©2017 Google.

The website thecoromandel.com has a page on the Pinnacles among its must-does, and this is a good information source.

The track up to the Pinnacles is not especially difficult for a fit person, as it was carved into the form of a staircase (in the steeper sections) so that kauri loggers, miners, and kauri gum diggers, excavating the ground for unfossilised resin, could get pack horses up and down.

The Pinnacles summit is only 759 metres high. Still, the track is quite steep in places, above all on the Pinnacles themselves. Just below the summit, the Pinnacles are fitted with climbing ladders. Obviously, this last section is no longer part of the pack-horse route.

The Pinnacles Hut, which is at the foot of the Pinnacles proper, and as such located on the pack-horse part of the route, sleeps eighty people. Even so, it is a good idea to book ahead in view of the popularity and accessibility of this walk. Many people of all ages walk up to the hut all thetime, even if they have no intention of venturing up the ladders all the way to the top of the Pinnacles.

The Kauaeranga Valley is a beautiful place. All the same, ithas seen a lot of extractive industry. In addition to logging, mining used to be a mainstay of the local economy, and gold mining has started up again lately. Both my family and many of the other residents in the area want it to stop because it’s very polluting to the natural landscape of the valley.

Climbing up to the Pinnacles via the old pack-horse route created by miners, kauriloggers and kauri gum diggers in the early 1900s

This is incredible...we should reach the top in under an hour

On the edge. The view is so worth it.

This post is referenced in my new book The Neglected North Island: New Zealand's other half.

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