The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles are part of the Coromandel Range, and while none are spectacularily tall (the largest mountain in the range is ~850m or something), they still provide a good hiking challenge. They would also be home to me for one night – I’m up to overnight hiking now, and using New Zealand’s backcountry hut system.

From the signpost it’s a DOC estimated 3 hour uphill-all-the-way hike to the Hut. One of the biggest differences this time is I’m taking my large backpack, not my small one. Sleeping bag, food, and cooking stuff takes up room! So I had a good extra bit of weight and bulk on my back.

Right away it seems like it will be a bit more of a challenge than a typical walk in the park. There are river crossings.

Nothing too bad, and the DOC has built nice optional routes across the river if the flow is too high. Little swing bridges.

This thing was pretty entertaining to cross, it really swings.

After that, it was nothing but climbing for 2 straight hours.

But finally, I got above the tree-line and got to see some of the surrounding mountains.

The Pinnacles are the dual peaks off to the left. That was my goal for the day, then I could rest. Which I would need – the hike up was tiring and the day hot. I stopped at the hut to drop my big bag and then got a good look at the peak to be climbed.

Not a bad view from the hut! I hiked a lot closer and the large rocks loomed overhead.

After a bit of scrambling, climbing a few make-shift ladders and a few nice ladders, I started getting very good views of the surrounding area. Looking westward, back the way I parked my car and started the hike.

South East view.

Due East, looking out at the Bay of Plenty.

And then northwards, you can barely make out the hut.

A proper panorama of the north view.

From there, it was just down to hiking back to the hut. I still stopped along the way for more pictures of the views, rocks and an odd baren tree.

Back at the hut, I sat back and relaxed and took in my home for the next ~14 hours.

The kitchen was nicer than I expected. Lots of room for cooking, and gas burners everywhere. The water needed to be boiled here, and there wasn’t any electricity, but otherwise, not shabby!

And the bunks. The hut housed 80 people in 2 bunks. It turned out, this wouldn’t be where I would sleep, even though I was the first one to the hut.

As I was settling down to reading in the shade and enjoying the peace of being away from civilization, something truly horrible happened. It started with just a small sound, but soon became a stampede of elephants. 12-14 year old elephants. 35 of them to be exact. THE HORROR.

I went and explored the rest of the surrounding area.

This whole range used to be covered in Kauri trees. But in the late 1800s/early 1900s, the Kauri was logged extensively in the area, using dams like this to get the logs from the higher elevations down to the lower ones without shattering. Still kauri logs left around in some places.

After making myself a quick dinner while the horrible children were occupied by chasing each other around, I hiked back up towards the Pinnacles with my Kindle to find a bit more peace and quiet amid the setting sun.

The sun cast long shadows over the valleys below.

I relaxed here and read for about an hour in the waning light. Even probably over 1/2 a kilometer away, I could still hear the kids at the hut. It didn’t ruin the gorgeous scenery and sunset, which made silouhettes out of surrounding mountains..

Getting back to the hut, I moved my stuff to the other bunk room – which held a quiet family of 4 and 30 empty beds. It was much quieter there and I got a good night’s sleep.

The next morning continued the good weather, with the sun shining down on the Pinnacles.

This time I took the longer way down, the Billy-Goat track. Rather than heading straight down as the path I took up would have been, the Billy-Goat meanders over a few more ridges, meaning an extra hour going up at times. The views were pretty nice, though the weather changed quickly for the worse.

I didn’t know it at the time but I’d actually be viewing those waterfalls again, and from a much closer perspective, in just over 24 hours.

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