This tramp is recommended for slightly older children (5+ years), however adventurous 4 years old have completed this tramp.
Location: At the road end of Kauaeranga Valley Road, 30 minutes drive from Thames.
Access: 6 km walk, with a height gain of 400 metres. This walk took us 3.5 hours including a short lunch stop (1 adult, 3 kids aged 8 and 10 years).
The track starts off flat and wide alongside the Kauaeranga River for the first kilometre before starting the climb up to the Hydro Campsite via Webb Creek track. There are a number of swing bridges to cross, all with wire netting to ensure safety for little ones. The track then varies from gradual sloping, to wooden steps and steps cut into rock (these can be slippery when wet). Some of the steps are quite large for little legs and a push up may be required. After climbing 350 metres in height you reach Hydro camp clearing. Past here the track is much flatter (with the old small climb) and only an hour to the hut. As you approach the hut, views of the volcanic landforms of Tauranikau and the Pinnacles come into view.
Hut features: This hut accommodates 80 people and is often booked out completely during the weekend nights. Bookings for Saturday nights need to be made several months in advance (we booked during the school holidays in the middle of the week and only need to book a week in advance). There is a hut warden present year-round. The hut has eight gas cookers available for use and several jugs for heating water (the hut was almost full during our stay and there wasn’t any issue with waiting for cookers as young families cooked at an earlier time). During summer, two bbq’s are available for cooking also. For cold nights, there is a wood burner. There are five indoor tables and three outdoor table for dining. The sleeping quarters are two large bunk rooms with side along sleeping and singular bunk style. There is also solar lighting in the kitchen and a cold shower available. In the kitchen is an AED defibrillator.
Five minutes walk from the hut is an old kauri dam, beside the Dancing Camp campsite.
For those kids who still have some energy to burn, there is a 50 minute walk one-way up to the Pinnacles (a further height gain of 200 metres). Near the top, there are metal ladders to climb. If children are too young or not confident, the views are still great from below these ladders. As you make your way up to the Pinnacles, the landscape is strewn with dead kauri tree stumps with the only kauris surviving on the steep cliff sides 😦
We returned the same way via Webb Creek track (there is another option to walk the longer route via Billy Goat track but this is for more advanced trampers and has a river crossing at the end).
Visited by the Shallard-Kerr family, October 2020