Last Updated: 29th Apr 2024


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The Great Pinnacle

National Park, Manawatu - Wanganui

Submitted by Khan Coleman

Last Updated: 29th Apr 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 45 ?

Gnarl Factor: 99 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back


Open ridges/tops


Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Easy Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +16.4%

Average Downhill Gradient: -16.4%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






Starting from the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre, follow the road up for 150m to the start of the Ridge Track. (Maintained DOC track). Follow the Ridge Track up through the beech forest, until you reach the picnic table. From there, look directly beyond the picnic table for a faint ground trail that will lead you on through the vegetation. Follow this up and you should come across a large rock cairn just as you start to break into some patches.

Upon reaching the cairn you can trend slightly towards the right to run along the right hand side of the faint ridge. This will get you out of the vegetation and into the open dirt and scoria. From here you should start to be able to see the main ridge you are aiming for. Keeping the vegetation on your left side so that you remain in the open, pick your way through whilst gradually traversing up and around to the right hand side of a small knoll.

Once around the knoll you should be heading SSE across a fast flat section, beelining it for the main ridge. Upon gaining the ridge proper you should be able to just follow your nose and remain on or near ridge crest most of the way. Any difficulties can be negotiated by turning on either side of the ridge, generally the western (ski area) side is better. The volcanic rock along the ridge is absolutely marvellous and generally of a solid nature.

The final push to the summit involves some scrambling and easy climbing moves, with plenty of options for managing exposure. Give yourself a few moments to enjoy the spectacular views from the summit of the Great Pinnacle, before retracing your steps and returning the way you came. Some care is certainly required while descending from the summit, but once you get back to the less exposed section of the ridge and back onto the nice soft scoria you can start to open it up and have some fun.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

There is plenty of public parking just across the road from the Visitor Centre, as well as various other locations throughout Whakapapa Village.

16 km

12 minutes




Generally good.

Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters

None, take your own.

Snow and ice could exist on the route at any time of year, and the upper part of the route will (almost) certainly be snow/ice covered in winter.

Alpine terrain with rock and icefall potential, wearing a helmet may be a good idea.

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Trail Reviews

What a great trip! Mostly walking on the way up and some phenomenal exposed scrambling on questionable tick too if you stick to the ridge tops. The run down on the broader ridge was so fun. Will definitely do again. A real mountain adventure!

Rich Purvis

February 8, 2022

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