Hiking the Pinnacles, Coromandel Forest Park

When in New Zealand you must do at least a little bit of hiking – and the Pinnacles is one that you should definitely add to your list! 

This hike is popular with both locals and tourists. However, I did find that the day I did it, there were only a few people on the trail – in fact it felt like a very quiet trail, not on of the most popular in New Zealand.

This hike is absolutely beautiful from start to finish, you get a great range of scenery. From waterfalls, streams, rivers, mountains to forests – everything in one hike. The hut on this hike is incredible too and is worth looking into staying for a night (more on this later).

This hike took me roughly 2.5hrs to summit and 1.5hrs to return from the Pinnacles hut.

What is Pinnacles Hike?

This is a 12km return hike located in the Coromandel Forest Park. You have two options for this hike, either complete it in a day trip or stay at the hut and complete it over 2 days. I personally recommend staying in the hut, because it means you don’t have to rush yourself to get up and down from the summit. 

Staying overnight also means that you can experience the summit during the afternoon or morning – it’s great to have options, because you don’t always get a clear view from the top. Just make sure you book the hut fair in advance, as it does book out during busy periods.

The Pinnacle hut is extremely comfortable and well kept. Honestly, coming from hiking Australia, this is complete luxury. You can read my full review of the pinnacles hut here. 

When to go?

I believe this walk is open all year round. However, I would recommend going in either summer or spring – this way the days will be warm and the nights will be cool.

What to pack?

If you are planning on staying overnight at the hut, you will need to bring:

  • Sleeping bag (the hut has mattresses)
  • Warm clothes/clean clothes 
  • Underwear 
  • Food (they have cooking utensils and gear in the hut)
  • Shoes to wear around the hut (dirty shoes are not allowed in the kitchen or dorms) 
  • Headlamp 
  • Hiking backpack 30-40 litres

If you are planning on hiking for a day trip, you will need to bring:

  • Water bottle (2-3litres)
  • Small backpack 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Hat
  • Rain jacket 
  • Snacks/lunch (can have lunch at hut, but won’t have access to kitchen) 

What to Expect from the Pinnacles Hike

The hike starts off with a boot cleaning station – please do this as it helps prevent die back disease!! 

After that the hike follows a flat path, leading you around the river and through beautiful greenery. You eventually come across a swing bridge, which crosses the river. This is the strongest and sturdiest swing bridge you will cross on this hike. After this the path is flat, with some small inclines.

The hike gets tough once you reach the first dodgy (but completely safe) swing bridge for a flood detour. This is where you will be welcomed with a constant string of stairs – some very steep/high ones too. This was the part of the hike where I started contemplating my life and why I always put myself through these struggles. 

These stairs run for about 3km – give or take. Expect to be climbing up a constant incline or stairs until you reach the sign which offers another option for a flood detour, close to Hydrocamp. 

Pinnacles Hike - New Zealand

After this sign the path still has inclines, but it’s not as steep. The worst is over!! The path from here has been worn down by rain and water, so it is slippery and rocky in some areas. If you are not sturdy on your feet or have bad knees – I would recommend bringing a walking stick. 

This is where you first start to get some very impressive views of the valley and mountain ranges – and if you are lucky the summit where you will be climbing. You will soon reach the Pinnacles Hut, which will be your final stop for now if you are stopping here. If not, maybe make this your lunch stop either on your way back or to the summit.

The hike to the summit from the Pinnacles Hut is a piece of cake after you’ve hiked all those steps. However, the path still has some steep inclines and steps. The last section of the hike, when you reach the death trap looking ladder – is where you will need to have all hands free. 

There are several parts after this point that do require a bit of climbing or rock scrambling. Take you time in this section. You will soon see the platform at the top, which marks the end of the trail. Over all this hike is absolutely stunning, despite the tough parts, it’s defiantly worth doing!


  • Make sure you have enough water, you can fill up at the streams but just keep in mind this water has not been filtered
  • Dress for the weather – when I hiked up it was hot, when I hiked down it was cold and windy 
  • Don’t be sad if you don’t get a clear view from the summit! Low cloud cover is common, so visibly from the summit may not be very good 
  • If staying overnight – pack only the essentials, those stairs are tough on the legs 
  • PREPARE YOUR THIGHS – I wish someone told me it was stairs all the way up, that would of given me a different mindset 
  • I would recommend trying this for sunset or sunrise if you have a clear day, as it would be a beautiful sight! 

If you have any questions about this hike, please ask in the comments and I’ll answer them ASAP 🙂

Click here for a detailed two week North Island itinerary!

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