Pinnacles Hut

The Pinnacles has been an elusive hike for us. We have tried to do it several times in the past, but it always got cancelled, usually on the morning of. Once, the road was flooded so the track couldn’t be accessed, another time we were in a covid lockdown, and the third time was again bad weather. So it was a shock to us when we woke up on a cold, rainy day in May, and we did not receive any calls from DoC telling us that once again we would not be able to complete the Pinnacles walk.

We drove 2 hours to the start of the hike, and breathed a sigh of relief when we were able to reach the parking lot. We ate some lunch, picked up our bags, and started off. We did this hike probably about 3 weeks after we had done the Heaphy, so it is important to note a couple things. First, because on the Heaphy we found our bags were far too heavy, we were ruthless in our packing and managed to be carrying only 7-9kgs on our backs (compared to 15-17kgs on the Heaphy). We felt light as a feather as we breezed along.

The second thing we noticed after the Heaphy was that after doing 5-6hour hikes with a heavy pack, a 3 hour hike with a light pack was a walk in the park. So comparatively, we felt as though this hike was a cinch. 

So we started off our hike, easy breezy lemon squeezy, on a flat track. It was rainy, windy, and chilly, but our spirits were high and we were feeling strong. Soon it began to gradually wind upwards into the hills. I think that because of the name Pinnacles, I was expecting it to be a crazy hard steep uphill for 3 hours straight, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was much more chill. Eventually after gradual uphill we did reach some stone steps that went up through forest, then a more exposed rock, and then back into the forest. The steps were tricky (and slippery) but quite manageable. The track continued uphill all the way to the hut. It was crazy windy, but almost the whole hike was pretty sheltered between the trees and the surrounding mountains. 

We made it to the hut in just under 3 hours, without even stopping for a break. We were amazed at how our fitness level had changed from doing the Heaphy so recently, and how much difference a light pack can make. We chose a bunk, set ourselves up, changed into dry clothes, and went to explore the hut. 

The hut had two bunk rooms of 40 bunks each that were completely seperate to the kitchen, which we thought was odd since it meant that the fireplace couldn’t heat the bunk rooms. The kitchen had rows of gas cookers and the classic DoC stainless steel bench prep areas. There were a few tables inside and a few outside, though I can’t see how they would seat everybody if the hut were full. 

By now, the wind was howling and it was getting really chilly. We debated whether we should do the half hour hike up to the summit of the Pinnacles before dark, or whether we should do it in the morning. We ultimately decided that we didn’t want to risk being blown off the mountain with the wind being as wild as it was. Instead, we made ourselves a cup of tea and read our books and ate chocolate while looking out the windows at the mounting storm. 

In the morning, we made ourselves breakfast and packed up. We had to be out of the hut by 9, so we got everything tidied up, then left our bags on a hook outside the hut so we could go hike to the summit. The clouds cleared up just enough for us to see the sun over the mountains. It was a beautiful hike and a great way to start the day, although it was certainly a bit slippery and sketchy in places.

We made it back down to our bags and started our journey back to the parking lot. The journey downhill was quick, it only took us just over 2 hours to complete our descent. We made it back to the car, had a quick lunch, and drove home. We really enjoyed the Pinnacles hike, it was an easy hike but still had its challenges. It was another fantastic journey through the New Zealand wilderness.