The weather was cold and rain was threatening, nevertheless we made the journey from Auckland to Thames at the edge of the Coromandel ranges in New Zealand with some enthusiasm. The Coromandel ranges are renowned as a stunning example of native bushland and one of the few remaining in the north-east of New Zealand’s north island.
The two-hour journey went with little disruption. Traffic was moderate but not unexpected due to the start of the Queen’s Birthday long-weekend (meaning we had Monday off work to recover), and the time passed with conversation catching up with the members of our party that we hadn’t seen since our last excursion to Ruapehu over Easter.
The start of the track begins about thirty minutes drive from Thames up the Kauaeranga Valley Road. The Department of Conservation (DOC) visitor centre was substantial and seemed busy, so we didn’t stop to check it out.
The beginning of the trail was bracketed by a gate and signage warning of the dangers of Kauri die-back, a pernicious mold that attacks and often kills the Kauri one of New Zealand’s iconic native trees. It is so destructive that it has spawned it’s own website to promote bush hygiene and attempt to stem the transfer of the disease between bush areas.
We had a great time, and made good time, with much to thank New Zealand’s Department of Conservation for. The Pinnacles Hut was outstanding, even though crowded at the time we were there. Furthermore the staff were informative, good-natured and friendly sharing their detailed knowledge of the area freely. I would definitely recommend the hike to tourists or sightseers with a reasonably high level of fitness.