I don’t know about you, but I have quite a long bucket list of places I want to visit and experiences I want to have in New Zealand and abroad. Some, like a weekend at Lakestone lodge, come with a rather large price ticket attached. Others can be enjoyed for free.
The Pinnacles Track is a walk in the Wairarapa that I have been wanting to do for some time. It featured in Peter Jackson’s LOTR – Return of the King film as The Path to the Dead. Whether you are a LOTR fan or not, this is an excellent walk and a great place to explore.
Let me set the scene; It is Matariki (Maori New Year, the first year this has been a public holiday here) and Daniel and I have decided to take the opportunity to go exploring. It’s a cold day, but the sun is trying to break through the clouds as we make the 1.5 hour drive to the reserve. I do love winter. Especially on a calm, still day. The soft blue hues of winter skies and cool mist hugging the bare trees, it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s a scenic drive, and even if we weren’t going for the walk, it would have been a nice day out.
We arrive late in the morning and I am quite surprised by the number of cars that are here. For a walk that is so remote, it seems pretty popular. We set out along the trail, if you can really call it that. You can’t really get lost (and that’s saying a lot coming from me) but the track is more just walking along the river stones, following the stream. It gets a bit muddy in parts and several times we have to cross the river, jumping across stones. (Flash back to our Abel Tasman Walk earlier in the year where I pulled a muscle in my leg from jumping over stones) Needless to say, I take a lot of care doing this. No injuries this time, and I stay dry. Good job!
The first half of the walk is flat, easy walking, following the river. Toi Toi and flax grow alongside the river and the surrounding hills are green with vegetation.
And then the landscape changes. We leave the river and the green hills behind us. This will be hard, I can see the incline goes on for sometime. I try to pace myself and watch my footing. We are walking on a mix of stones, gravel and shingle. And then Daniel calls out “Frog”. I look over to where he is pointing and just above his foot is a little green frog. I think it’s the first time I have seen a frog in the wild. It just sits there, its little webbed feet clinging onto its rock, not really bothered by us.
While part of me would like to hang out here for a while and continue watching the frog, I know I need to keep moving before I lose my momentum.
This is the first time since leaving the river that I have really looked up. We are in a fairly narrow channel, surrounded by tall, straight rock cliffs. It’s a really impressive sight. We make it to the top, stopping to take it all in and look at how high we climbed. The rock formations are something else, small and large rock chips fused together with a natural cement that has gradually been eroded away over time. They are so tall and straight, standing proud and towering overhead.
We head back along the same track to the river. The surface is rocky and uneven, so I spend a lot of time looking at my footing so I don’t trip. This does mean that I blindly follow Daniel into the mud. He is agile enough to be able to jump up onto the side of a hill and bypass it. Me on the other hand, well, I just have to go through it. (On reflection I could have back tracked and found a different route, but I didn’t have that thought at the time.) So I finish the walk covered in thick mud, well past my ankles. What an adventure.
We make it back to the car, and since we are in The Wairarapa, we head home via one of my favorite towns, Martinborough, to sit in the sun at The Village Cafe and refuel with some lunch. It was an excellent day out.