Hiking in The Coromandel
Overnight or full day hike
The Coromandel is an extraordinary playground for hiking enthusiasts, with well-marked trails traversing a variety of terrain and landscapes. There are many walks which depart from the Department of Conservation field station and Information Centre based in the Kauaeranga Valley, near Thames, including the area’s ‘great walk’; The Pinnacles.
Overnight Option 1: Kauaeranga Valley - The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail (Pinnacles Walk)
A climb to the top of the range at The Pinnacles is an absolute must for keen hikers visiting The Coromandel. An intermediate-grade easier/great walk track means it offers a well-formed track complete with bridges for river crossings and good signage and markers. The Pinnacles Walk offers magnificent views at many spots along the way. The track follows an old packhorse route used by Kauri bushmen in the 1920s.
Expect quite a climb up an old stone staircase; a remnant of the area’s logging past. The walk leads to the Pinnacles Hut, an excellent 80 bunk serviced hut (bookings are essential prior to arrival). Rest overnight then rise early and scramble up ladders and stairs to catch the sunrise at the Pinnacles summit. You will experience spectacular views of the Coromandel Peninsula (759m). This hike to Pinnacles Hut and Summit can also be completed in one day; allow 6-7 hours form the carpark at the end of the road.
Overnight Option 2: Near Thames - Crosbie’s Hut
Tramping to Crosbie’s Hut offers a more ‘off the beaten track’ hike compared to the Pinnacles. With several access points, you will soon be hiking deep in the Coromandel Forest Park, hearing only the sounds of birdsong and your footsteps. Crosbie’s Hut can be accessed from two 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.
If your group has more than one vehicle, a good plan is to hike to Crosbie’s Hut from one entrance and then hike out the next day along one of the other tracks. The modern, well-equipped hut is located on the Memorial Loop Track off the Main Range Track and takes approx 4-6 hours from all access points. At times steep, the destination rewards generously with 360 degree views of the Coromandel Ranges and the Firth of Thames and a comfortable and cosy place to rest after a great day’s walk.
Full Day Option 1: Northern Coromandel - Coromandel Coastal Walkway
Load up your backpack with plenty of food and water as you prepare to set off on a 10km hike that encapsulates the very best scenery The Coromandel has to offer. The Coromandel Coastal Walkway borders the northern Coromandel coastline between Stony and Fletcher Bays. It offers plenty of variety as it winds through forest, farmland and rocky shoreline and offers stunning views of Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island) to the north and Cuvier Island (Repanga Island) to the east. The majority of the walk follows a gentle gradient, however there is steep valley to conquer enroute to Poley Bay.
A good option prior to hiking the Coastal Walkway is to camp overnight at Fletcher or Stony Bay Department of Conservation campground. This means you’ll have plenty of time to complete the 7 hour return trip without having a lengthy drive to the hike’s entry point. Alternatively, the walk can be done in 3.5 hours from point to point if you arrange transport pick-up at the other end. A number of local operators can assist with this, Coromandel Adventures, and Coromandel Discovery To get to the walk’s access points, drive 31km north from Coromandel Town to Colville. From there, take Port Jackson Road for 30 km to Fletcher Bay, or Port Charles Road for 20 km to Stony Bay.
Full Day Option 2: Karangahake Gorge - Waitawheta Tramway to Waitawheta Hut
For a full day hike rich in history and easy on the knees, retrace the Waitawheta Tramway upriver into the heart of old kauri country, reaching the site of the historic Waitawheta sawmill next to Waitawheta Hut. Enjoy the regenerating forest above you as you navigate the gorge, with the meandering river below. This track starts across private farmland before entering the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park. After an hour the track crosses a large suspension bridge and passes a replica log bogie (tram cart). A loop track near the bridge offers a short detour to the site of an old electricity pylon.
The main track requires one river crossing but there is a bypass track that requires just a few small side stream crossings. The main track then leaves the river and through a campsite before reaching the toilet bowl waterfall, the Waitawheta Hut, and the site of the old logging mill. Return along the same track or spend the night to explore more of the park. Please note: Waitawheta Hut must be booked in advance at www.doc.govt.nz.