Nature and conservation
At 759 m high, the Pinnacles have panoramic views of the bush, mountains and coastline of the southern Coromandel.
A replica model dam (built to scale) like those used in the days of kauri logging is just a short walk from the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre.
History and culture
The Kauaeranga Valley was once adorned with magnificent kauri trees. Favoured for its thick, straight trunk and durable knot-free timber, kauri was highly sought after by early settlers.
The abundance of kauri in the valley drew pioneering bushmen to the area. From the 1870s bush camps were set up throughout the valley and the area was logged extensively over the following 60 years.
When all but the most inaccessible kauri within the valley had been logged, the tramline was pulled up and the dams, bush camps and other relics gradually fell into ruin as the forest slowly began to recover. In 1970 the remaining sections of native forests were protected as part of the Coromandel Forest Park.
Of the many structures built by kauri bushmen, the driving dams have proven the most durable, and are arguably the most distinctive and evocative relics of the industry.
Dancing Camp dam
Over 60 dams were built in the Kauaeranga Valley, however, today only two (Christmas Creek and Dancing Camp) remain substantially intact. If you want to see how the dams worked there is a one third scale working replica just ten minutes walk from the visitor centre.
The Dancing Camp dam is 5 minutes from the Pinnacles Hut, on the Kauaeranga Roadend - Pinnacles Hut section of the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail.
Access to Christmas Creek is dangerous and not recommended.
Built in the 1920s, both the Christmas Creek and Dancing Camp dams have been partially restored to ensure their survival. Further work is planned to rebuild the right side of the Christmas Creek dam. Ongoing maintenance and treatment plans are in place to preserve the timber of both dams.
Kauaeranga Kauri Trail follows original pack tracks once used by bushmen and spans a spectacular landscape of pinnacles, bluffs and gorges.
The Kauaeranga Valley is 13 km to the east in behind the town of Thames, on the Coromandel Peninsula.
When driving into Thames from the south turn right down Banks Street and follow this road. After 10 km the road becomes gravel, travel another 3 km to the DOC Visitor Centre.
There is another 9 km of gravel road past the Visitor Centre, most of the walks start from various points along this part of the road.