Those of you who have made the hike to the Pinnacles will laugh when you hear how James and I embarked on this journey. Those who have yet to make the trip – let us be a horrible warning.
Having no children for the day we decided on a whim to go for a walk. We were staying at James cottage on the Hauraki Plains so decided to go local and headed over to the Kaueranga Gorge to do a bit of exploring. We stopped in at the information centre where they looked us up and down and politely asked us if we were really sure that we wanted to tackle the Pinnacles and checked if we had told anyone where we were going (excellent advice by the way).
Undeterred James and I set off to conquer a mountain. We’re not the fittest people in the world and we certainly weren’t compared to some of the people we saw running (yes, running) up past us and I had worn my Chucks instead of sneakers. But we had water, insect repellent and food so off we went.
The entrance to the Pinnacles track is located about 20 minutes out of Thames along a gravel road and there is ample parking down the bottom of the track for cars.
The track itself follows the original steps that the packhorses used to follow in the 1900’s to transport gold, kauri and gum that the region is so famous for.
The stone steps are leg killers but at the same time oh so stunning. There is a reward at the top in the form of a swimming hole. There were very few people around when we went so James stripped off and jumped in – I wasn’t quite so game so just dangled my feet in on the side.
It’s a tough walk and it wasn’t just us judging by this note we found stuck on a tree on our way up…
We made it all the way up to the Hydro Camp (a 2 and a half hour walk) before deciding that the Pinnacles themselves were a little too much to accomplish on our first hike and we were high enough as it was.
We made the decision then to make the round trip and go down the Billy Goat track. My reasoning was that it was different and I was sure I had seen a sign that said it was shorter. I hadn’t. And it wasn’t.
The Billy Goat track is very aptly named for the billy goats (and particularly agile jogger that was the only other person we saw on the track) who could pick their way down without slipping and sliding like James and I did.
This leg of the track was about 4 hours (or maybe longer – we kind of lost track of time) – we could have got up to the Pinnacles and back down in the same amount of time.
We hurt for days but it was totally worth it. The scenery was amazing and there is a certain pride in having got that far up a mountain together.
From SH25 at the southern entrance to Thames, turn right into Banks Street beside the service station. Banks Street veers right into Parawai Road, which then becomes Kauaeranga Valley Road. Follow this for 13 km to the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre. The road then continues a further 9 km to the road end.