Voted as one of the 101 Must Do's for Kiwis Reaching the summit of the Pinnacles should be something every Kiwi does at least once! The stunning Kauaeranga Valley, located upriver from Thames is one of New Zealand’s true hidden treasures. Of the many popular historic walks in the foothills of the valley, the Pinnacles walk rates as one of New Zealand’s most popular overnighters, with an 80 bed DoC hut often booked out well in advance. The Pinnacles can be walked in one day if you're fit enough. Allow 8 hours to do the loop, transport options are available to pick up and drop off from Thames.
The road-end carpark and start of Pinnacles Walk is at the foot of the ranges, nine kilometres of unsealed road from the Kauaeranga Valley Visitor’s Centre. Access the Kauaeranga Valley from Thames. Please note: do not try to access The Pinnacles from Hikuai on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.
The Pinnacles Walk follows the original steps constructed for packhorses which carried supplies for kauri loggers, gum diggers and gold miners who plundered the area in the early 1900’s.
The stunning 3 hour walk to the base of the craggy Pinnacles traverses through groves of nikau palms, huge rata trees, and across streams and swingbridges. Crossing the streams you can imagine the roar of huge torrents of water and logs rushing past as the kauri dams upstream were released sending thousands of huge kauri logs downstream towards Thames. Allow an extra 40 minutes one way from the Hut to the sumit of The Pinnacles.
For those who have stayed the night, an early start the next morning will see you clambering carefully up the peak of the Pinnacles to see some of the first rays of sun hitting the Pacific Ocean and offshore islands of The Coromandel. You’ll want a good head for heights but will be rewarded with 360 degree panoramic views of both coasts of The Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty, Hauraki Gulf and Plains.
On the return walk you can follow the Billygoat tramline which also transported logs from the hills, past the Short Trestle and Billygoat falls before emerging back at the Kaueranga River.
Huts up the Kauaeranga Valley
Overnighting at the 80 bed Pinnacles Hut is five star luxury as far as back country camping goes and sitting outside at night you can hear kiwi and morepork call and watch the mist gather over the Pinnacles above.
For those venturing futher afield, Crosbies Hut is located on the Memorial Loop Track off the Main Range Track, approximately 12 km north east of Thames. The Hut can be accessed from a number of tracks, with two access points from Thames township (Waiotahi and Karaka), two off the Thames Coast Highway (SH 25) (Te Puru and Waiomu) one off the Tapu-Coroglen Road and one from the Kauaeranga Valley. The Waiotahi Track can be extremely muddy in wet weather. Allow 4 to 6 hours for all access tracks to Crosbies Hut.
Directions to The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles are at the height of the Coromandel Forest Park. To access The Pinnacles head up the Kauaeranga Valley, behind the town of Thames. 13km from Thames is the Kauaeranga Valley information centre - where you can find out more information before you begin the walk.
Please note The Pinnacles should not be accessed from the east coast (e.g. Tairua/Pauanui): Directions on Google Maps (eg: Directions from Auckland International Airport to The Pinnacles) suggests approaching The Pinnacles from the east - via Hikuai which is longer and where the track is extremely poor. Directions should suggest driving and walking from the West and the Kauaeranga Valley behind Thames – which is more direct for most visitors, where there is better road access and a far better track.