Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Twenty-two people turned up for this pack carrying expedition over the Coromandel ranges from the end of Rangihau Road south of Coroglen to the Kauaeranga Valley via The Pinnacles. We had reasonably good weather with a lot of wind but no rain.  

Friday - to Thames

We left the Bracken at 6:15pm in two hired vans, and stop for munchies at the top of the Bombay hills. Stephen Calley, who lives in Pukekohe, met us here. From there we carried on to Thames and the home of Peter and Nancy Lloyd on the road to Kauaeranga Valley, arriving about 9pm. This was where we would be staying the night, the ladies bedding down in the spacious lounge and the men sleeping on mattresses in a downstairs room.   We had plenty of time to chat over supper and get to know one another.  

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Saturday - Rangihau to Pinnacles Hut

We were awakened at 6am with the Vice Presidential Cups Of Tea In Bed Service, and had to fight blanket grab in order to get away by 8am. Our hosts put on an appetising breakfast of porridge and bacon-and-eggs.

We decided the quickest way to Coroglen would be via the Kopu-Hikuai highway and Tairua rather than through Tapu, as the road through Tairua was sealed all the way to Coroglen. The Rangihau Road was a good gravel road to start with, but became progressively worse with many potholes and a rough rocky surface. In the end most of us got out of the vans and walked the last few hundred metres, getting back into the vehicles to cross a ford just  before the finish of the road.  
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It was about half past ten when we set out on our tramp.  
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We crossed the Rangihau Stream over a swing bridge before beginning a long and gradual climb a wide track through the bush. We had gained an altitude of about 250  metres by the time we stopped for lunch on a sheltered part of track out of the howling wind at about midday.  
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Because it was election day Laurie told us about the Bible character Joshua, and how he got everybody together after leading them into the promised land. As we were faced with making a decision on who lost to lead New Zealand for the next three years, so  Joshua said to the people Choose you this day when you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Laurie had brought along two large ticks cut out of paper, representing the two votes each New Zealand elector had to face. He rearranged the ticks to point upwards, quoting the words of Jesus I am the way, the truth and the life, and said that we need to make our own choice to serve Jesus Christ. Joshua recalled the great things that God had done, and we need to think about what Christ did - he died on the cross for the just and the unjust, to take the punishment for our sins. Laurie rearranged the two ticks to roughly form a cross, then he changed them to the letter L for Lord. He concluded by urging us to give the Lord two ticks by putting our faith and trust in Him.  
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We carried on, continuing to climb gradually, and we soon arrived at the top of the range. Looking back we had a good view down towards Coroglen with Whitianga and Mercury Bay in the distance.
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To our left we could see the peaks of Welcome Jack.    
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Looking ahead we caught our first glimpse of the Pinnacles across the plateau.  
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The track became more undulating, and a bit slippery in places.  
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Eventually we dropped down into the headwaters of the Kauaeranga Valley, the track been steep and a little tricky in one of two places. We crossed the stream and climbed steeply up the other side. The track became more undulating and after a while joined up with the main track to the Pinnacles Hut.  
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The first people arrived about 4pm. Waiting for us at the hut was Alasdair and his 12yo son David. They had driven up from their home in Ohaupo south of Hamilton, and tramped up the Kauaeranga Valley to the hut to join us for the rest of the weekend. Some of the fitter menfolk volunteered to go back down the track to help some of the slower ladies by carrying their packs for them, enabling everyone to reach the hut well before dark.  

The 80-bed Pinnacles Hut was a luxury compared with most other DOC huts. There were two spacious dorms, a large kitchen dining area and a very big outdoor deck - but nobody used that because the weather was so cold and blustery! Our group settled into one of the dorms; the other dorm was occupied by another large group that was staying there.

We cooked our dinner on the gas stoves in the kitchen, and brought in a picnic table from the deck to ensure everyone could sit down for the meal. The kitchen and dining area had electric lights powered by a solar supply. There were two lights, but to conserve the batteries we could only have one light on at a time. Also the lights would automatically turn off after half an hour and we would have to grope in the dark to find the switch and turn them on again.  
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One of us had brought a tiny portable colour television so that we could watch the election results unfold, but we found the reception was very poor and had to knock that idea on the head.  
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One of the people in the other group that was there had a birthday, and the birthday cake was shared amongst our group as well.  

Sunday - The Pinnacles, then out via Webb Creek

We all had to fight blanket grab once more to be ready to start our climb up the Pinnacles by 7:30am. It was still cold and windy, but at least the sky was clear. Most of us took the challenge, but a few stayed back - one had problems with his legs, and another was put off by the thought of having to scale a couple of ladders!
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The track was muddy to start with, and gradually became steeper with many rocky patches.  As we climbed we could look out to the east coast.  

There were two ladders to negotiate, followed by some tricky rock scrambling, and we felt a great sense of achievement on reaching the summit of the Pinnacles. It was still cold and nippy, but the wind had died down quite a bit.  
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We had a clear view all around - the East Coast and Whangamata, the backbone of the Coromandel Ranges with the Kaimai Ranges and Mt Te Aroha in the distance, and the Waikato Basin with Mount Pirongia on the horizon.
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We could also look down on to the plateau and see the Pinnacles Hut.  
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The cold was preventing us from the lingering too long at the top, so we made way back to the Pinnacles Hut.  

As we sat in our dorm we enjoyed a very interesting devotion from Bev about the glory of God. She quoted the verse The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) then got us to pretend that we were travelling through space at the speed of light. We would pass Mars after four and a half minutes, and Jupiter after 35 minutes. It would take 4.3 years to reach Alpha Centaurus, one of the closest stars, and maybe 70 or more times that long to reach the more distant stars. And all this was created by God. Bev then turned out thoughts to water - not just as a combination of hydrogen and oxygen but an incredible mixture of the right proportion to serve our needs. She said that three quarters of the earth's surface was covered by 326 million cubic miles of water, and described how the water evaporates to form the clouds. About 8 million droplets of water in the clouds would form one single rain drop, and the rain would fall to provide the water for our needs. Bev then pointed to the creation of angels, masterpieces of God that surround the throne of the Almighty. The highest ranking of the angels is outranked by us as children of God. She quoted 1 John 5:1 - Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him and said that we are all heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. She gave the illustration of a man who took his son up a hill, telling him that the love of God is like the view they could see all around - north, south, east and west. The boy commented Gee, Dad, we must be in the middle of it!
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Peter then congratulated Laurie on being selected for the A-Team in Search and Rescue, which was indeed a very high honour.  

We packed up, swept out the dorm, and were away by ten o'clock for the tramp down the Kauaeranga Valley. Unlike the previous day the track was well formed all the way, with mostly a very good surface. The track started and mainly level, following the name ridge of the Coromandel range with views out towards the east coast. Then we began to descend to the old camp site, the junction with the Billy Goat Track.
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From there we carried on down the Webb Creek Track, the shortest way to the Kauaeranga road end. It was a steady descent into the Web Creek gully, was steps cut into the track.  We had occasional glimpses of the valley below us.  
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In one place the track crossed a lovely little waterfall.  

We were all out at the road end by 1 p.m., and our vans were waiting for us.  We had a quick look at the visitors centre before carrying on to chez Nancy and Peter Lloyd, where we had stayed on Friday night, our hosts put on a lovely lunch of make-your-own hamburgers, and we thanked our hosts by presenting them with cards that each one of us had signed.  
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By half past two we were headed homewards, and were back at the Bracken before 5pm, having enjoyed a wonderful weekend and workout.  

COST: $65 (travel in hired vans $28; food $10; Pinnacles Hut $15; koha to hosts plus incidentals $12)