At the head of the Kauaeranga Valley is the Pinnacles Track. Or actualy it might be the Webb Creek Track but it takes you up to Pinnacles Hut and then you can branch off up to the Pinnacles if you haven’t had enough by that point.
It is a very well made track, almost paved in some parts, but about halfway up I was imagining that at some point DOC had decided they would only hire big legged people. Really, some of the steps are about six hundred millimeters high. I later accosted a DOC worker about it and he laughed and said the track had been put in for horses which is why the steps were laid that way.
I mentioned to someone on the way up that I had been told on steep sections the way to go was to stay under the sweat line and he looked at me with sweat pouring down my face, laughed and said I must mean the tree line.
All that being said, it was a great walk with marvelous views. Especially from the top of the Pinnacles. Well worth it, although I would advise anyone else to stay a night at the hut to break up the walking. My fitness is improving though.
My hitching is also improving and I got a lift to Thames having walked all of twenty meters at the end of the track. It was New Years eve so I wanted to be somewhere I could recharge my phone and have a shower. Alas it was not to be. Thames was completely booked out leaving my only decent option to get a ride back to Coromandel which actually worked out very well.
There is a bit of a gap in the ridgeline tracks after Coromandel and the next piece starts halfway up the Tapu-Coroglen road. I went to isite in Coromandel in the morning though and one of the woman said that instead of going up there you could go to Waiomu and walk up from there.
I probably should have caught the bus from Coromandel but instead I decided to hitch. It took ages. It was about twelve thirty by the time I reached Waiomu and since I had a pizza at the cafe there it was about quarter past one when I started the track.
The track is very nice. It winds up through the bush until it reaches one of the largest kauri stands in Coromandel. On the way I met a man with a camera who said the last part of the track with the stairs was quite steep. I didn’t find them steep at all. Unfortunately for me that is were the easy part of the Waiomu Valley Tramping track ends and the rest is a lot steeper and harder as it heads for the Crosbies Main Ridge Tramping track. Usually I find I bet the DOC tramping times but in this case three hours meant three hours.
The Main Ridge track was far easier in comparison but it still meant I didn’t reach Crosbies hut until about five thirty. I was thinking of staying there although I had booked a campsite in the Kauaeranga valley but when I turned up there was a young couple there from Christchurch. It’s one of those things that happens quite often with huts. You think you have it all to yourself and then someone turns up at the end of the day. Anyway, I took pity on them and carried on.
I almost turned back when I got to the next signpost which stated four hours down to the valley. That would have meant I would run out of light. I had filled up with water at the hut though so I figured if I didn’t make it then I could just camp in the bush. One of the benefits of carrying everything you need I suppose.
I arrived at camp about an hour before dark, got more water, setup camp and had noodles for dinner.
I think Fred dropped me back to the campground at about eleven o’clock so I was a little bit groggy the next morning. I made it to the Colville Store shortly before eight and had a couple of pies for breakfast before starting along the road towards Coromandel.
According to the NZ Topo maps there was a ridgeline track that you could access about an hours walk from Colville. Fred had also confirmed this and said that he had done it but years ago.
When I got there though it was a locked farm gate with the trail leading across someones paddock. I am pretty reticent to enter peoples property without asking even if it is stated on the map as public access. Maps can be wrong and there is a lot of political territorial stuff surrounding land ownership in New Zealand.
Luckily I was straight across the road from Branch Creek Furniture which, as I found out, is made by Greg Taylor. Greg was hiding in the bushes waiting to surprise me when I walked up the drive. Not very well though as I saw him. So he handed me a couple of buckets of sheep pellets and we wandered up to see if we could call the farm. Interesting man.
We couldn’t get hold of anyone at the farm but Greg said he used to chop scrub for them up on the hill and they would be OK…..or possibly he said I wouldn’t get a bullet in the head? He also called the track the inland road which was known to many locals as a way to walk to Coromandel.
The track is a little steep but drivable and heads up onto a ridge which connects with the main ridgeline. Actually the whole track turned out to be a four wheel drive track all the way through to Kennedy Bay road where I had lunch up at Tokatea lookout.
After that I crossed the road onto the Kaipawa Trig track and followed that through. It’s a DOC track but a lot rougher than the inland road. There are also signs everywhere saying to stay on the track as there are old mine shafts everywhere.
I was going to go through to the Whangapoua Road but I met a woman who said there was a new track called the Success Track that led straight down into Coromandel. It worked out that it exited about two hundred meters from my cousins so that worked out well.
Unfortunately my Aunt was up at Colville until after New Years so I decided to come back after walking a few more tracks.
Waking up this morning was great. It was quiet, the sun was drying the dew off the fly, and I felt rested. Actually, I had a great sleep.
By the time everybody else was crawling out of their campervans I was packed up and striding off. Last in and first out. It made me think of Kens ten before ten rule. Ten miles before ten in the morning to start off the day. I didn’t manage that but I might have done maybe six kilometers or something. I am a slack packer after all.
The walk around to Sandy Bay (Where I met a couple looking to buy a house because Tauranga is getting to busy for them) was along a metal road with a bit of a climb to start with but then it flattened out before heading back down.
Amusingly as I was leaving Sandy Bay I heard voices behind me gaining at such speed I thought they must have been going slowly on bikes. It turned out to be three older woman who past me at great speed and then made excuses for me because i was wearing a pack.
The goal of the day was to reach Colville and I was going to do this by following a track on the NZ Topo maps that started off from Port Charles, along to Potiki Bay and then back to the Port Charles to Colville road.
Unfortunately it appears this track doesn’t exist. I was suspicious when the map showed it starting in exactly the same place as someone driveway so I asked a local guy and he reckons he gets asked all the time and there isn’t any decent track at all. So that was the end of that.
i walked back to the turnoff and another local stopped and gave me a lift to Colville. Turns out he knows my aunt and had just been talking to my cousin at Xmas. Very small country. So it was the Colville Cafe for lunch and then Colville Motel for a camp site (I like it).
I am a little at a loss as to what to do next. I have tried contacting DOC in Whitianga and can’t get through and the only map I can find that shows the track on the NZ Topo maps is the NZ Topo maps. Doc shows nothing. NZ Walking shows some paper roads but not much else. I’ll go to the cafe tomorrow before the tourists get up and see if I can find someone who knows but if not then it looks like a walk until bored road walk and then hitch to Coro tomorrow.
What a day. I was supposed to cross to Port Jackson in Logan’s boat but the wind got up and it didn’t look like it was going to be possible until Saturday (four days away). Instead I ended up booking a flight with Fly Stark to Whitianga (via Okiwi and Pauanui). All went well and suddenly I was in Whitianga…not really where I wanted to be but at least on the right side of the channel.
I think I might have made a wrong decision turning left onto the Whitianga bypass instead of right towards the 309 road but it all panned out when I was picked up moments later by Sharpy’s son. This was the start of a series of fairly good rides which meant that I arrived at Fletchers Bay in a little over twice the time it would have taken me to drive there.
The first was Sharpy’s son, the second was to the Matarangi turnoff, the third was all the way to Colville, the fourth was to Port Jackson, and the fifth I ended up getting out of half was to Fletchers Bay so I could walk.
By this time it was a bit after five and the walk to Stony Bay (where I planned to camp) was about three and a half hours according to the signage. It was a nice walk. I was a bit worried at the start as it was a bit up and down and then it started raining but that all stopped after the first hour and I think it took me a little under three hours.
I should have done the Muriwai track from Port Jackson to Fletchers although it might have made me late.
There is an alternate stock route track that could be interesting.
Stony bay is nice but the Coromandel walkway isn’t very long.
It appears that not much planning can lead to not much going right and in the case of this journey there have been a number of things that haven’t gone according to my hemi-demi-semi-plan.
Firstly, my tent pole broke. On the bright side this motivated me to also buy some tent wash and waterproofing agent (it had been leaking since about the 3/4 mark on Te Araroa) so that the Hubba Hubba NX wouldn’t create Lake Hubba Hubba NX in the morning. This might have turned out better if they had of sent me the right part and (in their favor) if i hadn’t left it until two weeks until Xmas to realise it was the wrong part. It might also have turned out better if they hadn’t sent the wrong part out twice. Still, I have a waterproof….actually, that hasn’t been tested really…..tent supported by a piece of Murray’s golf club.
Part two was the weather. The partial plan was to get a lift from Great Barrier across the channel and get dropped off at Port Jackson. Simple, efficient, and heading in the right direction. This was stymied by the weather kicking up on the day I wanted to go and the swell in the channel the next day.
The rest I will document as I go along but here is a copy of the original plan for future reference.
Cross channel to Coromandel
Take walking tracks to Coromandel township and see aunt and cousins.
Continue walking till Auckland through the Hunuas.