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St Mary’s. Drive through the village and just before entering St Marys Pass there is a signed right turn for St Patrick’s Head. The road becomes gravel after 1km. Go ~3km almost to the end of the road to where it turns sharp left uphill and becomes more of a lane. Don’t drive up the lane. Park your car here. Facing you and to the right of the lane is a barn with big lettering on the side advising you to “beware of the bull”. 

Walk up to the end of the lane where there is a gate set in the wall and a sign announcing the track. This is not the official track start however. Go through the gate, up the path and skirt the left edge of the field (hopefully when the bull is asleep) to where you can see the official sign above you.

The north coast

Fingal Valley

From the track start the obvious path climbs very gently at first through the forest under the west side of the Pinnacle. After 10-15 minutes you’ve traversed to the south side of the peak and the track turns left and heads up abruptly and steeply. The way is now loose, slippery and eroded and stays this way until you’ve cleared the trees and are directly under the rock tower of the Pinnacle itself. The route now spirals around to the east side of the summit and becomes a marked route as the last of the path disappears. Follow the coloured blazes up and between several sub peaks to eventually emerge on the summit with its large trig. There is some considerable exposure in the final 5 minutes to the top and steep drop-offs on all sides once there. While not exactly a via ferrata, there are several steel ladders and hand lines in place to assist the climber. 

Below you to the east from Bicheno in the south to St Helens in the north are the huge Tasman Sea breakers crashing ashore. To the west, the pastoral tranquility of your approach, the Fingal Valley, with the huge bulk of the Ben Lomond plateau behind. Even further west are the layers of the Great Western Tiers. 

Descend by reversing the above being extra careful on the steep, eroded sections

The total distance is approximately 5km with an elevation difference of ~400m. Round trip time from the car is no more than 2-2.5hrs with the descent taking a little longer than the ascent.


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