Our First Hike in NZ: The Pinnacles (a.k.a. Kauaeranga Kauri Trail)

When we arrived in Auckland, we had absolutely no plans for our 26 days in New Zealand. And I mean none, which was very liberating, exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking. Luckily, everyone we meet in New Zealand has been incredibly friendly and helpful. This includes the man who helped us with our rental car. When we asked for good tent-camping spots in the area, preferably with a nice hike nearby, he immediately suggested the Pinnacles, a.k.a. the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail.

We are so grateful for his suggestion, because we absolutely loved this hike and campsite. After 3 months of basically drinking on beaches in Asia, it was so refreshing to be in the chilly, great outdoors, getting some good ole’ exercise. Here are some details and photos of the hike, our first of many in New Zealand.

 

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General

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. This hike took us 6.5 hours, round trip, from our campsite (right next to the trail head). We made many little stops for pictures, water, and to check out the Pinnacle hut. We are definitely not “in shape” (given our beach bum status for the past few months), but found it pretty moderate; not extremely challenging, but definitely got our blood pumping.

pinnacles north island new zealand

You’ll want to pack water and lots of layers for this hike. Since we went in Mid-November, we expected warmer weather than we experienced. I’d suggest a hat or ear-warmers, as well as a wind-breaker or rain coat, as it gets very windy as you ascend.

The Hike

The hike is pretty simple and contains 3 main sections.

Kauaeranga Road end (near our campsite) to Hydro Camp (via Webb Creek Track)

Time: 1 hr 45 min – 2 hr (one way)

This section of the hike was beautiful, mostly in a covered forest. It involved lots of steep climbs and got our hearts beating fast.

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Hydro Camp to Pinnacles Hut

Time: 45 min – 1 hour (one way)

This was the easiest portion of the walk/hike. The “hut” is a great stopping point. You can use the toilets, get some water, stop to eat at the picnic tables, or even stop here for the night (15 NZD); you must have a reservation for a bunk, so plan ahead for this.

Pinnacles Hut to the Pinnacles Lookout

Time: 50 min one way

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This is the steepest, toughest part of the hike. It mainly consists of steep steps and climbing up rocks and ladders. The view points along the way make this section absolutely worth it!

pinnacles steep climb

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Once you return to Hydrocamp, you have the option to take a different route back – the Billygoat Track (instead of the Webb Creek Track). It adds about an hour to your journey, and it’s not recommended in wet weather, since you’ll have to cross a river. Since it was really rainy when we went, we begrudgingly decided to go the same way back.

All in all, our first hike in New Zealand was unforgettable, and we highly recommend either camping here or taking a day trip while you’re on the North Island!

What is the best hike you’ve ever done? Have you ever hiked in New Zealand?

2 Comment

  1. Craig says: Reply

    I don’t know if there’s an unattractive view in all of New Zealand. I’ve only been to the southern island which is picturesque. Thanks for these great pictures from the north!

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      So true – it’s pretty impossible to take a bad picture of NZ!

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