009.) The Pinnacles , Thames 06/2003

The Pinnacles walk near Thames is classified as one of the 'Great Walks' in New Zealand . It is very popular and the hut at the top is top class . It has two separate bunk rooms that each have 40 bunks providing bedding for 80 people . You have to book in advance , even if you want to spend the night in the nearby camping site .
There used to be a lot of logging in the area and steps have been cut in the rocks in many places along the track .
We arranged a group of 15 people keen to do the walk and arrived in a few carloads . We got there first and decided to start walking/climbing .

There are a few bridges to cross , everything is well maintained along the track .

Some of the 'stone steps'

Apparently they used flooding techniques to wash large amounts of logs down the river which resulted in a fair amount of damage - something us humans seem to excel at .

There's the hut in the distance ...

Now my machete on the bed there adds to the story - I put it there to help mark out beds for everyone in our group .

The hut warden had asked about it and I assured him it was just in case a small tree had fallen across the track so I could clear it away without having to damage new vegetation by going around it - I even did him the favour of showing him how to twirl a machete -

He obviously didn't appreciate that because when the first of my mates got to the top he said he had seen the map stating that it was a 3 - 5 hour walk - 5 km up a steep hill , and asked the hut warden , who he met coming down the track , what the fastest time anyone has done the track was .
The hut warden replied " A madman with a machete just did it in 1 hr 27 minutes " - he told me he immediately knew I was at the hut ....

As mentioned it is very well laid out , except for the fact that the showers are cold water only .

There is also a kitchen with gas cookers and a gas barbeque on the sizable verandah where you can sit and look out over the treetops .

The 'dunnies'

The next morning we decided to climb the pinnacles which are supposedly a half hour walk from the hut and can afford views of the east and west coast on a clear day  .

As you can see it was a little foggy so our view wasn't too good .

If we had stayed another half an hour we would have had a good view because the cloud started lifting as we made our way down .

The steel ladder leading up to the lookout .....

And on many of the walks in New Zealand you can be pretty sure of running into some mud along the way which is fortunately reasonably well taken care of on the more popular walks .

It's a good walk and now I'm tempted to return with a better camera after more than 6 years ... 
06/2004 was another short trip , not with a good camera though .
We stayed in the campsite this time ...

and had slightly clearer weather for viewing from the lookout

 But we came down via a different track which was a refreshing change .

There is a lot of history to the place and they make sure that everything is well marked on these walks .

It has been a few years but there is still much to see before I go back to old tracks again I suppose .

Interestingly I just noticed the old picture compared to this trip while going through the pictures :
first trip :
second trip .....