I have been looking forward to hiking the Pinnacles Track ever since I began typing “New Zealand” into Pinterest and drooling over the photos. The views looked incredible and the hike to the peak itself looked quite challenging: just what I like in a hike! It was a full day hike, although there is a hut before the summit, so many people stay overnight and enjoy the view from the top at sunset. We planned to do it all in one day, and it took us about seven hours return.
The first half of the hike wound through thick bush, over a few bouncy, surprisingly strong suspension bridges, and even up a long, trickling waterfall. It was a little slippery, but very fun to scramble up. As we continued up the path, the tall trees thinned out and the moist soil and rocks led to dusty, red dirt. We got our first views of the surrounding peaks here. The unique pillar formations in the Coromandel Forest Park were once inside the core of ancient volcanoes. Over millions of years, the surrounding rock has eroded away, leaving the pinnacles standing on their own, as if they are the guardians of the forest.
Once we got to the hut, it was a 45 minute hike up to the summit. Thankfully, 2/3 of this was marching up wooden steps built into the side of the mountain. For the last 1/3, we had the aid of various iron pegs, steps, and ladders bolted into the rock. If you’ve ever done the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park in Maine, it was similar to that. I enjoyed the challenge of swinging from rung to rung, and, as long as I didn’t look down, it was one of the most enjoyable summit pushes I’ve done.
At the top, there was a small wooden platform to sit and rest on. Other hikers came up, from a slew of different countries, and we greeted them with congratulations. We spent about an hour hanging out at the top, finding new views and hanging on tight. We met another couple from Germany (everyone we meet is from Germany). They are headed the same direction as us on their road trip, and they were pretty awesome, so we’re hoping to find ourselves in the same town again sometime soon.
On the way back down, my tendency to get injured struck again. Back in Kotor, Montenegro, my shoe lace got caught in the hook of the opposite boot and I went down like a sack of bricks. Even though I had been careful to triple tie and tuck in my laces this time, the same exact thing happened, with similar injuries resulting. Except instead of catching myself with one hand, all the impact was absorbed right below my left kneecap, which meant a few very painful hours ahead of us. Luckily, Stine and Thomas came upon us shortly after the fall, and they let us use some of their water to clean my wounds, since we had enough to drink for the next few hours but not enough to clean with. They were super kind and caring.
Those long, trickly waterfalls that were so fun to scramble up? Not so fun to get down hobbling on one leg. I leaned on Nate for most of the downhill, unable to hold all my weight myself at such a steep angle. It was relentlessly long, but finally we made it back to the car. That man’s patience with me just grows and grows.
We had been staying in a lovely Airbnb room in nearby Thames on the west coast of the peninsula with a local woman who was kind, thoughtful, and generous. We came home to find that she had cooked us dinner! We chatted over a delightful quiche made with silverbeet from her garden and drank local ginger beer together until the sun set. After staying in hotels for so long, her hospitality and friendship were gifts for our souls. (Estelle, you are truly awesome.)
The Pinnacles Track is just a tiny piece of what the Coromandel Peninsula has to offer. We’ll share more about our exploration there soon!