See your own backyard

Herald photographer Liam Clayton gives Justine Tyerman some stern advice about tramping

Herald photographer Liam Clayton gives Justine Tyerman some stern advice about tramping

The summit of the Pinnacles hike on the Coromandel Peninsula. Pictures by Liam Clayton
New Chums Beach (left), rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Liam on a cliff above New Chums Beach.
The cobblestone track takes a route built for horses and carts to transport kauri.
Cathedral Cove
Sunset (above) from the track to the top of the Pinnacles.
The Pinnacles Hut, one of the largest DoC huts in New Zealand, sleeps 80.
The mist rolling in across the valley the morning after the trio climbed to the Pinnacles summit.

HOW COME you’ve never heard about the Pinnacles Track on the Coromandel Peninsula? my photographer colleague Liam asks me, knowing how keen I am on tramping.

“Probably because it’s in the North Island and as you know, I’m a biased South Islander,” I reply.

“Well, you should go there,” says Liam.

“It’s amazing and has an awesome view from the top — the highest point on the peninsula,” he says showing me his stunning photographs of the panorama from the summit, the sunset and the mist rolling up the valley.

“The track is called the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail and follows a historic packhorse route used by kauri bushmen in the 1920s.

“It’s a gradual climb up a cobblestone track and across several swing bridges to the Department of Conservation (DoC) hut, but after that, the route to the summit is very steep,” says Liam, who did the hike with his brother and a mate.

“To reach the top, you have to climb a vertical ladder, pulling yourself up on iron hand rungs embedded into the rock.

“You definitely need a sense of adventure and you have to watch where you put your feet. It’s pretty strenuous but it’s worth it for the view, which is absolutely stunning, especially the sunset.

“I’m not that fit so I was stoked to reach the summit. The day before, we had climbed up Wairere Falls near Matamata which nearly killed me — so I didn’t think I’d make it to the top of the Pinnacles.

“It was a really cool climb but I wouldn’t attempt it in winter. It was very windy at the top with sheer drops all around.”

He’s glad they went to the top on the first day or they would have missed the sunset and the view.

“The next day, it was cloudy, so there was no view. But it was surreal and kind of eerie up there, watching the mist rolling up the valley.”

The trio spent the night at the DoC hut which sleeps 80 and is one of the largest in New Zealand.

“Two of us had no sleeping bags so we nearly froze to death overnight. It was mid-October and very cold and windy. We didn’t realise it would be that cold.

“We took some dehydrated food so at least we had something to eat.”

The next day, they dropped in to New Chums Beach, rated one of the world’s top 10 beaches.

“To get there, we had to cross a river at high tide so we had to swim. It was like walking onto a beautiful tropical island — the perfect spot to relax and recover from the previous days’ exertion.”

Liam’s advice is to go and see your own backyard before you go overseas.

“Kiwis take their country for granted — it’s so beautiful here.

“And YOU need to do some North Island tramps!”

HOW COME you’ve never heard about the Pinnacles Track on the Coromandel Peninsula? my photographer colleague Liam asks me, knowing how keen I am on tramping.

“Probably because it’s in the North Island and as you know, I’m a biased South Islander,” I reply.

“Well, you should go there,” says Liam.

“It’s amazing and has an awesome view from the top — the highest point on the peninsula,” he says showing me his stunning photographs of the panorama from the summit, the sunset and the mist rolling up the valley.

“The track is called the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail and follows a historic packhorse route used by kauri bushmen in the 1920s.

“It’s a gradual climb up a cobblestone track and across several swing bridges to the Department of Conservation (DoC) hut, but after that, the route to the summit is very steep,” says Liam, who did the hike with his brother and a mate.

“To reach the top, you have to climb a vertical ladder, pulling yourself up on iron hand rungs embedded into the rock.

“You definitely need a sense of adventure and you have to watch where you put your feet. It’s pretty strenuous but it’s worth it for the view, which is absolutely stunning, especially the sunset.

“I’m not that fit so I was stoked to reach the summit. The day before, we had climbed up Wairere Falls near Matamata which nearly killed me — so I didn’t think I’d make it to the top of the Pinnacles.

“It was a really cool climb but I wouldn’t attempt it in winter. It was very windy at the top with sheer drops all around.”

He’s glad they went to the top on the first day or they would have missed the sunset and the view.

“The next day, it was cloudy, so there was no view. But it was surreal and kind of eerie up there, watching the mist rolling up the valley.”

The trio spent the night at the DoC hut which sleeps 80 and is one of the largest in New Zealand.

“Two of us had no sleeping bags so we nearly froze to death overnight. It was mid-October and very cold and windy. We didn’t realise it would be that cold.

“We took some dehydrated food so at least we had something to eat.”

The next day, they dropped in to New Chums Beach, rated one of the world’s top 10 beaches.

“To get there, we had to cross a river at high tide so we had to swim. It was like walking onto a beautiful tropical island — the perfect spot to relax and recover from the previous days’ exertion.”

Liam’s advice is to go and see your own backyard before you go overseas.

“Kiwis take their country for granted — it’s so beautiful here.

“And YOU need to do some North Island tramps!”

The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail to the Pinnacles, 759m, is a three-hour hike which begins about 40 minutes from Thames.

Hikers can buy a hut ticket from the DoC office at the base of the track.

You need to book in advance, especially over summer months and also when school groups are likely to be there.

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