|PINNACLES HUT, COROMANDEL FOREST PARK|
We did a 2 day walk here up to the Pinnacles Hut starting and finishing at Kauaeranga Valley road end, near Thames on the Coromandel Peninsular. This is a popular area with lots of walking options(mainly day walks), but being near Auckland can get busy at weekends and peak holiday times (the hut can get full and it sleeps 80!) , so choose your time carefully. The hut has gas cookers. This is an area of rugged forested hills , mainly regenerating native bush after the logging boom of the late 19th C when the massive kauri trees were extracted. There is lots of interest in seeking out the old logging dams, pack horse trails and tramway clearings of the logging boom, it is also an old gold mining area.
There is a Visitor Centre in Kauaeranga Valley (14kms from Thames) where you will need to purchase hut tickets before setting out. Transport is essential to get you to the gravel road end (about 10kms from the Visitor Centre) where the walk starts, there are plenty of camping options hereabouts. The recommended route is to follow Webb Creek to the hut and then return the next day down Billy GoatTrack, with a tent you could extend this trip to 3 or more days. A scramble up to the top of the Pinnacles is throughly recommended, the views are superb.
DAY 1...to Pinnacles Hut via Webb Creek
From the road end the track is clearly signposted as you follow Webb Creek using the old pack horse route, in bush forest initially but eventually reaching higher ground where the views open up. You then reach a clearing known as Hydrocamp, a nice rest spot. You come back to this spot from the hut before taking the Billy Goat track on your return. The hut is about 1 hr from here.
Once at the hut we dumped our packs and followed the well worn track and then some easy scrambling as well as two short ladder ascents before we reached the slightly dizzy heights of the Pinnacles themselves. Not a lot of space to move around but the views in all directions are superb. Well worth the 45 mins or so of effort.
View back down to the Pinnacles Hut, this is a newish hut with gas cookers, heater, running water, solar lighting and bags of space to relax in as well as being in a great location. The old hut nearby is used as a residence for a permanent hut warden. There are a few camping spots near the Dancing Camp Dam.
View on way to hut
On the Pinnacles 759 metres
On the Pinnacles
View back down to the hut
DAY 2...return via Billy Goat Track
Dancing Camp Dam
On the tramway
5mins from the hut brings you to the Dancing Camp Dam, one of the better preserved Kauri Dams, built in 1924, unfortunately partially destroyed by floods in 1994. This is where the loggers would store the kauri logs through the logging season waiting for the rains to build up the water level before releasing the dam and sending all the logs down to the valley bottom, apparently not at all that successful at times.
The return by Billy Goat Track is longer than the ascent but has some superb views and a lot more of interest. About 3 hours or so from the Hydrocamp to the valley bottom. The track uses the old tramline before a final steepish descent to the river where there is a swing bridge.