A Guide to The Pinnacles Hut Hike in the Coromandel Peninsula

A Guide to The Pinnacles Hut Hike in the Coromandel Peninsula
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When I landed in New Zealand, I had one thing on my mind – hiking. It had been a while since I had been out in the mountains and I was longing for that cloud nine feeling.

Thankfully, New Zealand offers some of the best hiking in the world. One of the first hikes I did was the Pinnacles Hut hike. In this post, I’ll take you through the hike, what to expect and share some tips.

Also known as Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, the Pinnacles Hut hike remains one of my all-time favourites in New Zealand. I’m surprised this incredible hike isn’t more popular. I had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being one of my favourites. 

View from top of Pinnacles Hut Hike
View from top of Pinnacles Hut Hike


I would argue this hike challenges that of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing when it comes to must-do hikes here in New Zealand. It’s completely different so hard to compare the two, but the views and reward you get from the Pinnacles Hut hike are sublime. You’re rewarded with the most incredible rainforest views. 

Once you reach the top, it feels like you’re in Jurassic Park.

About the Pinnacles Hut Hike

The Pinnacles Hut Hike is in the Coromandel Peninsula, in Coromandel Forest Park. It’s a little bit of the beaten path so you’ll need a car to reach it.

Overview of the hike: 

Length: 8.8 miles (14km)
Elevation gain: 2552 feet (777 metres)
Terrain: Rock and dirt
Difficulty: Hard
Type: Out and back
Time: 6-8 hours

It’s possible to do the hike as an overnight hike by staying in the Pinnacles Hut. 

How difficult is the Pinnacles Hut hike?

The Pinnacles Hut hike is no joke. The out and back hike is 8.8miles (14km) but is incredibly steep. In fact, you gain around 2,552ft in elevation. The hike is very steep, and there are a lot of stairs.

The hike starts off relatively flat and could easily fool people into thinking it’s a straight-forward hike, but it’s not. It’s a long slog up and there are A LOT of steps. Once you reach the hut, there is another relentless staircase which leads to the peak. However before you reach the peak, you must navigate ladders and scrambling over boulders.

It’s not for the faint of heart but also isn’t overly technical if you’ve scrambled before.

How long does it take to hike the Pinnacles Hut Hike?

For this hike, you have two options.

Option 1: you can hike up to the hut, stay overnight then hike to the summit for sunset and/or sunrise. You must book in advance to use the hut. 

Option 2: you can hike up and down in one day. This is what I did. The hike in total took me around 5 ½ hours.

On the way down, I came across around 50 people aiming for the hut to stay overnight. I imagine it gets overly crowded at sunrise and sunset and the peak doesn’t have that much space. With this in mind, my personal suggestion would be to attempt to hike it up and down in one day.

A description of the Pinnacles Hike

The hike starts off relatively flat and you’ll walk across some bridges before reaching the start of the main climb. Before you do, keep an eye out for signs to the Billygoat Waterfall Lookout. It will only add five minutes to the hike and is absolutely worth the extra effort.

I won’t lie, it’s a long slog upwards of around an hour or so. Once you break through the tree line, it settles down a bit and you’ll eventually reach the Pinnacles Hut. Make sure you don’t turn around here (as tempting as it might be). The best views are still to come.

Continue on the trail past the hut and you’ll shortly reach (more) steps. These steps feel endless but keep going, you’ll eventually have to climb some ladders and metal rungs to help you up. The views at the top are simply breath-taking. All you can see for miles and miles are mountains covered in forests with the sea in the distance.

The steps can feel long and endless. It can also get very slippery after rain so make sure you have appropriate footwear and take your time.

Note: make sure you take the Webb Creek trail.

Check out the best day hikes in New Zealand. 

Where to stay for hiking the Pinnacles Hut hike?

If you have a van or are happy to camp, the Department of Conservation has some cheap campsites right by the trail. I stayed at the Totara Flat campsite and simply walked to the trailhead in the morning. You will need to pay a small fee (it varies by season) which can be done through the DoC website.

Alternatively, the nearest town with suitable accommodation would be the town of Thames. It’s a solid 45 minute drive from Thames to the hike up a narrow, unsealed road, but it’s easily doable in a day.

Are there toilets on the hike?

Yes. There are toilets at the start of the trail and at the hut. You can use these facilities even if you’re not staying there.

What to pack for the hike?

As with any hike, it’s always important to be prepared especially when doing a track as challenging as the Pinnacles. Here’s a rough packing list for a day hike:

  • At least 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Lunch and extra snacks
  • Electrolytes
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Layers
  • Cap
  • Suncream
  • Bug repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone (make sure you have the map downloaded in advance)
  • Walking sticks if you benefit from there (there are a lot of steps which can be tough on the knees)
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