- Coromandel Forest Park
- Pinnacles Hut ($15, 80 bunks)
- From the car park at the end of Kauaeranga Valley Road
Pinnacles Hut is the most popular in the country. One way to make your overnight trip slightly more unique, and immeasurably more adventurous, is to tackle the Moss Creek Track which adds at least two hours to the trip and involves steep uphills, rutted and overgrown tracks, bogs and a stream crossing or two. To top it off, you still get to experience some of the kauri milling history the area is famous for.
From the car, walk along the wide level track to the turn-off to Moss Creek. Here, a large sign stands in the middle of the track. Inattentive trampers have frequently taken this turn-off and found themselves walking to Pinnacles the hard way. If you see the sign, now is your chance to turn back.
The track meanders beside the river for a short while and then heads menacingly upwards. There's a good 500m vertical gain to be made to reach the flat tops that mark this section of the Coromandel Range.
The tops are mostly overgrown with cutty grass dominating the side of the track. Moss Creek Campsite, an unattractive bog with platforms for pitching tents, is a little way inland, at the head of Moss Creek. The track can get muddy and boggy and old logs have been placed on the track, much like stepping stones in a river, to keep walkers above the worst of it.
The Coromandel hills are riddled with the remains of old kauri dams, the best of which can be seen on the main track to Pinnacles Hut. But even on this lesser trodden alternate route, there is a good example of the huge dams millers used to send logs crashing down the Kauaeranga Valley. The track passes right beside what is now a jumbled pile of timber but which still unmistakably resembles a dam and provides an interesting place for a break.
After traversing the tops for a couple of kilometres, a brief clearing is reached which offers a lovely view into the interior of the range and towards the Pinnacles. The track then begins its steep, rutted descent to the headwaters of Webb Creek.
When the track emerges at Webb Creek, look downstream to see the remnants of another kauri dam.The track widens and heads gently uphill towards Pinnacles Hut with power lines marching alongside. There is one last bog to cross before the track becomes a gravelled path all the way to the hut.
Stay the night and make the walk a loop by descending the Webb Creek Track back to the car.