Coromandel Pinnacles Walk (My Complete Guide)

Tristan Balme A complete guide to hiking the coromandel pinnacles

Located in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island, the Coromandel Pinnacles are a series of towering rock formations that offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The hike to the summit is challenging but rewarding, with a mix of steep ascents, winding trails, and beautiful vistas.

The Pinnacles takes 3-4 hours each way (7 hrs return) and is usually done as an overnight hike by staying at the Pinnacles Hut or adjacent campsite, but can easily be done in a single day too. The Department of Conservation classifies the hike as Intermediate, which is fair given the number of steep hills and steps along the route.

In this guide, I’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the hike, including route options, how to get there, what to bring, and tips for a successful hike.

Tristan Balme Coromandel Pinnacles Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
Tristan Balme Coromandel Pinnacles panorama

Why I Recommend Hiking The Pinnacles

The Coromandel Pinnacles is a must-see destination for anyone travelling through the waikato and bay of plenty regions. The hike itself is challenging but rewarding, with a mix of steep ascents, winding trails, and beautiful vistas. The Coromandel Pinnacles are a true natural wonder, with towering peaks and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

For me, there’s nothing better than sitting perched on top of a mountain as the sun comes up. On a crytal clear day, there’s no better place to do this than the pinnacles.

My Experiences:

I’ve done this hike 3 times. Once in terrible conditions (would not recommend), once as a day hike starting the trail at 4 am to summit for sunrise, and finally once taking the slow route and spending a night at the hut.

If you’re in a big group with friends, staying at the hut can be a lot of fun. Otherwise, pick a day with good weather and boost up and back in a day. There are plenty of other things to see and do in the Kauaeranga Valley if you have a little bit of time left over.

The Coromandel Pinnacles (A Brief Summary)

Located in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island, the Coromandel Pinnacles are a series of towering rock formations that offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The hike to the summit is challenging but rewarding, with a mix of steep ascents, winding trails, and beautiful vistas.

Route/Trip Options

Before we get into the hike, there two ways people normally do the hike, as an overnigher or there and back in a day.

Option 1: One Day Hike

For those who are short on time or just want a quick taste of the hike, the one-day route is a great option. This route takes you up to the summit and back in a single day, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the views along the way.

My Recommendation: Pick a day with good weather and boost up and back in a day. On a warm summers day there are some great swimming holes in the area too (a nice reward after 5+ hours on your feet). If you’re really game. Try and get to the start of the walk by around 4am and you can catch the sunrise!

Option 2: Two Day/ One night

For those who want to take their time and really explore the area, the two-day/one-night route is a great option. This route takes you up to the summit and back, with an overnight stay at the Pinnacles Hut.

My Recommendation: If you’re in a big group with friends, staying at the hut can be a lot of fun. There’s plenty of other things to see and do in the Kauaeranga Valley if you have a little bit of time left over either end of the hike. (more on this later!)

Tristan Balme Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
Tristan Balme pinacles

How To Get There

The Coromandel Pinnacles are located in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island, and getting there is relatively easy. The closest town to the trailhead is Thames, which is located about 1.5-2hrs from Auckland. From there, you can drive to the trailhead.

From Thames to the trailhead it’s around 21km, so you’ll need to either drive, shuttle/taxi or hitchhike.

Bussing: There are frequent intercity buses to Thames (as this is en route to Tauranga). You’ll get dropped off at the bus station in central Thames. From there, you’ll need to either book a shuttle or hitchhike to the start of the trail.

Shuttle/Taxi: Thames Taxi’s are the only service that run a shuttle to the pinnacles walk. This isn’t a regular thing, so you’ll need to book in advance and you’ll be paying for taxi prices. This is probably only economical if you’re travelling in a group – if you’re going solo i’d probably hitchhike.

Hitchhiking: Kauaeranga Road is one way in and one way out. If you are patient, you’ll be able to snag a ride to the start of the track because most people heading that way are probably doing the same thing!

Complete Guide To Hiking The Pinnacles

Right, Let’s get into it.

There are two tracks up the pinnacles. The first and by far the most common is the Webb Creek Track. The other (as the name suggests) is a bit more rough and that’s the Billygoat Track.

Time Taken: Taking the Web Creek Track both ways is estimated to take 6-7.5 hrs return, while taking the Billy Goat Track one way and the Webb Creek back is estimated to take 7-8.5hrs return.

Tristan Balme Coromandel Pinnacles hike sign post

Option A) Webb Creek Track To Hydro Camp:

The hike begins at the Webb Creek car park, where you’ll start on the Webb Creek Track. This track is relatively easy and takes you through beautiful native bush, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, with several stream crossings and gentle ascents.

Option B) Billygoat Track To Hydro Camp

The other (perhaps more fun) option is to take the Billygoat Track. This track is steep and challenging, with plenty of switchbacks and rocky terrain. The trail is well-maintained, with several steps and ladders to help you navigate the steeper sections.

En route, you’ll pass Billygoat Camp, a 8-tent backcountry campsite with long drop-style toilets.

Both tracks pop out at an area called Hydro Camp.

Hydrocamp To The Pinnacles Hut

Once you reach the Hydro Camp, you’ll have the option to either continue on to the Pinnacles Hut or turn back. The hike to the hut is relatively easy, with a mix of flat terrain and gentle ascents. The trail takes you through beautiful native bush and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Pinnacles Hut to the summit

From the Pinnacles Hut, there’s a biref walk along the flat before trail becomes much steeper and more challenging. You’ll need to climb up a series of ladders and steps, with some sections requiring a bit of scrambling. However, the views from the summit are absolutely worth the effort. The summit offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, with plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery.

Summit Safety Note: The summit of the pinnacles is a steel lookout platform in the shelter of the rocky outcrop that are the pinnacles themselves. Unfortunately, from there you’ll only get 180-degree views of the valley, and can’t really see out across the east coast and Whangamata.

Some people chose to climb up the rocks and perch on top to see the full panorama – but this isn’t encouraged as there’s a real risk of falling (people have died here!).

So, If you’re feeling game, and sure-footed this is an option but do so very carefully and at your own risk!

Tristan Balme coromandel pinnacles lookout
Tristan Balme silhouette of 3 hikers on the Coromandel Pinnacles

Parking at the Trailhead:

from Thames to the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre it’s about 13km or 17minutes drive. Then from the visitor centre it’s anothe 8.3km or 17km down a gravel road to the carpark

Tristan Balme Map of getting to the coromandel pinnacles 2
Tristan Balme Map of getting to the coromandel pinnacles

Parking at the trailhead is limited, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a spot. If the car park is full, you can along the road, or back in one of the other carparks in the park you’ll just have to walk a bit further)

The Pinnacles Hut

Facilities

The Pinnacles Hut is a great place to rest and recharge after a long day of hiking. The hut offers basic facilities, including bunk beds, a kitchen, and a bathroom. There is also a water source nearby, which is great for refilling your water bottles.

Campsite

For those who prefer to camp, there is a campsite located near the hut. The campsite offers basic facilities, including a water source and a toilet. The campsite is a great option for those who want to spend more time in the area and explore the surrounding countryside.

How To Book

Booking the Pinnacles Hut or campsite is relatively easy, and can be done through the Department of Conservation website. It’s a good idea to book well in advance, especially during peak hiking season. The hut and campsite can fill up quickly, so it’s important to book early to avoid disappointment.

Bookings can also be made in person at the visitor center, over the phone or online. Howver, There is a $10 fee for in-person and phone bookings, so i’d strongly recommend you book online.

Also note, Backcountry Hut Passes can only be used in this hut from 1 May to 30 September. 

What To Bring

When hiking the Coromandel Pinnacles, it’s important to be prepared for a range of weather conditions. Here are some items you should consider bringing:

  • Water: Staying hydrated is crucial on any hike, and the Coromandel Pinnacles are no exception. Be sure to bring plenty of water, as there are no water sources along the trail. A general rule of thumb is to bring at least 2 liters per person for a one-day hike.
  • Food: You’ll need to fuel your body for the challenging hike ahead. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks and a hearty lunch. Foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates will give you sustained energy throughout the day.
  • Warm clothing: Even in the summer months, the weather in the Coromandel Peninsula can be unpredictable. Be sure to bring warm layers, including a fleece or down jacket, hat, and gloves. It’s better to bring too many layers and take them off as needed than to be caught without enough warm clothing.
  • Rain gear: Rain is always a possibility in New Zealand, so be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and pants. A rain cover for your backpack is also recommended to keep your gear dry.
  • Map and compass: While the trail is well-marked, it’s always a good idea to bring a map and compass as a backup. This can be especially useful if the weather turns bad or you need to navigate off-trail for any reason.
  • First aid kit: Accidents can happen on any hike, so be sure to bring a basic first aid kit. Include items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. It’s also a good idea to bring any personal medications you may need.

Remember, the trail to the Coromandel Pinnacles can be challenging, so it’s important to have the right gear and equipment. Being prepared will help ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.

On Your Way Back: Hoffman’s Pools

What I didn’t learn until recently is there’s in fact an epic swimming hole just a few minute’s drive past the Visitor Centre. This is Hoffmans Pools and even shows up on google maps!

I’d highly recommend rinsing off here after the hike.

There’s even a big jumping rock on the other side of the river. Just swim around to the right and there’s a rope to help you up!

Tristan Balme Hoffmans Pools
Tristan Balme Map of hoffmans pools

5 Tips For Hiking The Coromandel Pinnacles.

1. Book well in advance if you’re doing the 2-day trip.

The Pinnacles Hut is a popular destination, especially during peak hiking season. Be sure to book well in advance if you’re planning on doing the two-day trip. This will help ensure that you have a spot at the hut and can enjoy your hike without any stress or worry.

2. Be prepared for terrible weather

The weather in the Coromandel Peninsula can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for rain, wind, and cold temperatures. Be sure to bring warm clothing, rain gear, and plenty of layers to stay warm and dry on the trail.

3. Walking poles a good if it’s been raining

The trail can be slippery and muddy, especially after rain. Walking poles can help provide extra stability and support, making it easier to navigate the trail.

4. Be safe at the summit

The summit of the Coromandel Pinnacles can be dangerous, especially in windy or wet conditions. Be sure to take extra care and follow all safety precautions. Don’t take unnecessary risks and always be aware of your surroundings.

5. Stop for a swim on your way out.

On your way back to the trailhead, be sure to stop at the Hoffman Pools swimming hole. It’s a great way to cool off and relax after a long day of hiking. The swimming hole is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and if you swim across the rive there’s even a good rock for jumping in from!

Final Thoughts

Hiking the Coromandel Pinnacles is an unforgettable experience that offers stunning views and a true sense of accomplishment. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, this hike is a must-see destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. The Coromandel Pinnacles offer a true taste of New Zealand’s natural beauty, with stunning views, challenging terrain, and a sense of adventure that is hard to find anywhere else.

Tristan Balme sunrise over the Coromandel Pinnacles
Tristan Balme Coromandel Pinnacles starting the ascent
Tristan Balme Walking the ridge line of the Coromandel Pinnacles Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
Tristan Balme summit of the Coromandel Pinnacles Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
Tristan Balme people watching sunrise on the Coromandel Pinnacles Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
Tristan Balme hikers watch the Coromandel Pinnacles Kauaeranga Kauri Trail sunrise
Tristan Balme pinnacles hike
Tristan Balme pinnacles
Tristan Balme summit of the Coromandel Pinnacles Kauaeranga Kauri Trail 1

FAQ:

How long does the pinnacles walk take?

The length of the hike depends on the route you choose. The one-day route takes approximately 5-6 hours, while the two-day route takes approximately 12-14 hours. The length of the hike can also depend on your level of fitness and experience.

Is the pinnacles walk hard?

The Pinnacles Walk is a challenging hike, with steep ascents, rocky terrain, and challenging weather conditions. However, with proper preparation and a positive attitude, anyone can complete the hike. It’s important to be prepared for the challenges of the trail and to take it at your own pace.

Can you do the pinnacles walk in one day?

Yes, it is possible to complete the Pinnacles Walk in one day. However, it is a challenging hike that requires a good level of fitness and stamina. It’s important to be prepared for the physical demands of the trail and to take it at your own pace.

Do you need to book Pinnacles walk?

You don’t need to book the walk, but do need to book the hut if you plan on staying the night. Bookings can be made in person at the visitor centre, over the phone or online. There is a $10 fee for in person and phone bookings, so i’d strongly recommend you book online.

Also note, Backcountry Hut Passes can only be used in this hut from 1 May to 30 September. 

What time of day is best to see the pinnacles?

The best time of day to see the Pinnacles is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the light is softer and the views are more dramatic. This can help you get the best possible experience of the natural beauty of the area.

What time of year is best to hike Pinnacles?

The best time of year to hike the Pinnacles is during the summer months (December-February), when the weather is warm and dry. However, be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions at any time of year. It’s important to be prepared for the weather and to bring appropriate gear and equipment.

Which entrance to Pinnacles is best?

Both the Webb Creek and Billygoat tracks offer stunning views and challenging terrain. However, the Billygoat track is generally considered to be more challenging, with steeper ascents and more rocky terrain. The route you choose will depend on your level of fitness and experience, as well as your personal preferences.

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