Webb - Pinnacles - Billy Goat Loop (The Pinnacles)
Head to the car park at the very end of Kauaeranga Valley Road (after plenty of pot holes). Here you’ll see signage for the start of the Webb Track. We head off into the bush on a flat track and it’s not long before we come across a cool swing bridge over the river. The track continues fairly flat with just a slight gradient at first past some pretty massive Totara trees. After a while we cross a wee stream, there are also alternative crossings (detours in case of flooding) available if you wish to take a higher bridge option. We then begin our accent up the stone stairs where there’s plenty of moss and lots of rock. The stairs alternate with stairs carved into the rock, skidded stairs in between flattish bits of stone pathway and some guest-starring bridged stream crossings. Anyway stairs seem to be pretty much the general theme.
After about 1 ½ hours we reach the Hydro Camp Junction. Here there is a flattish clearing for camping and the Billy Goat Track is on the right. We continue straight ahead and upwards on the Webb Track.
We encounter, yep you may have guessed, another rocky staircase, but this one kinda reminded us of ancient Roman ruins. After a while the track leads onto a ridge, still going upwards but not too many stairs remain. We find a view point in a sunbeam, looking down on the valley below with a great rocky phallic pinnacle (which wasn’t the Pinnacles) jutting out from below looking pretty dramatic. We also decided this was a good a spot for a warming cuppa and some golden crunch cookies. Refuelled we pushed on and it wasn’t too long before the track flattened out and The Pinnacles revealed themselves on the right along with great views to be had on both sides.
After about 40 minutes we reach the junction of the Moss Creek Track on the left and the Webb Track continues straight ahead towards the Pinnacles Hut which we reach a few minutes later, where this track ends and the Pinnacles Track begins. There is also a wee track on the left to the hut. We continue straight ahead, passing another track on the left to the Dancing Camp Dam. The Pinnacles track starts off fairly flat before a steady incline and then plenty of steps. Looking upwards at our goal the Pinnacles look very similar to a castle with its battlements. The higher we go the better the view gets. We have a distinct view of Tairua and Pauanui below, lots of islands, the Hauraki Plains, Table Mountain and the dramatic Coromandel ranges along with plenty of cool rock formations. After the steps it gets a lot steeper and there are a series of ladders to climb up too. After about half an hour from starting out we reach the top where there is a viewing platform.
The view from here is breathtaking. We also see that you can climb up behind the rocks where there is another rail (no platform though) with another view just as spectacular, but from the other side. It’s quite easy to spend a wee bit of time up here just taking it all in and course taking a few pics. After a while the wind picked up and the rain clouds closed in so we headed back down towards the Pinnacle Hut. Another ½ hour we were back at the hut and we had a look around. This is the biggest DoC hut in NZ and it's very impressive. There is also a nice covered veranda with picnic tables and view. This makes a perfect spot, and with perfect timing, for lunch out of the rain. Here we tuck into our Avocado & Zucchini Pickle Sarnies with a nice hot cuppa.
Energised we back track down to the Hydro Camp Junction. This time we take the path now on our left of the Billy Goat Track. This starts out flat and rocky and just when we expect it to veer right and veer down, it actually heads left and upwards. This happens more than once. There are lots of rocky stairs and rocky flat bits – actually lots of rock, which gets pretty hard on the feet – bring back the mud. After about an hour we reach the top of the ridge where it’s flat again, below heading steadily downwards on stairs cut into the rock which is also pretty slippery. After lots of down, we arrive at a stream, which we walk alongside for a bit until we cross at a wooden bridge.
A minute of two later we arrive at the Billygoat Basin Campground . We also pass the junction to the Hihi Track on our left. We continue straight on the Billy Goat Track which is flat for a bit where we also get a few views on the right of the Billygoat Falls. Soon enough the track heads fairly steeply downwards again – yep more rocky stairs. On the side of the stairs is a railway/tram line which is at about a 45 degree angle. The carriages must have had damn good breaks.
After close to an hour of down we make it back to the flat bush and beautiful soft mud. The bush is very dense mossy and green with plenty of birdlife. This bush is pretty short and sweet and after close to half an hour later we come out at the Kauaeranga River. There is an option to head across via a bridge, but our feet are very keen on a cooling river crossing. A few minutes later we’re back on Kauaeranga Valley Road and we head right for a few hundred metres back to the car.
Total loop time about 6 hours 40 minutes.
Level of Difficulty
Moderate (with lots of rock underfoot)
6.75 Hours (Winter 2012)
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