Nearest town: Coromandel Town
Type of track: there and back
Official distance: I don’t know. maybe about 2km?
Official time: 2 hours
Jenny’s time: about 2 hours
Toilets: find your favourite spot in the bush!
Tips: It can be cold and windy at the top, so take a jacket!
On my very first day in Coromandel Town the homeowners where I was to be house sitting pointed out Castle Rock to me. Towering above the surrounding hills, its lumpy surface does indeed look like a castle tower.
From another angle it’s a sleeping giant’s face, with a large forehead and big bulbous nose. It’s actually the core of an old volcano, and as soon as they told me that there’s a path going to the top, I knew I had to climb it.
To get there, go South from Coromandel town and turn up the 309 road, following it for about 5km. Just past the Waterworks look for the sign that says “Castle Rock Road” on the left and go up the steep-ish gravel track for just over 2km.
When you see the opening on the left with a rock arrow, you know you’re at the start of the track. Park your car and start walking, following the track markers all the way to the top. We somehow took a wrong turn and ended up whacking through some thick grasses on a barely-there track, but ended up in the right place anyway, so don’t worry too much.
The track winds up the side of the hill, and is pretty steep and a bit muddy in places. I took my walking pole, which I was glad to have for most of the way up, but when I got to the last few metres I left it there to pick up on the way back. On the way down I preferred to have my hands free to grab on to trees and rocks, so I strapped it to my backpack.
The last few metres are a scramble over rocks, but the view from the top is spectacular. You can see 360 degrees of green Coromandel hills, surrounded by ocean and islands. You can see right down to Opera Point and Matarangi on one side and down to Coromandel Harbour on the other side.
My friend and I went in the late afternoon and walking down to the backdrop of the setting sun was very beautiful.
Castle Rock is also a popular rock climbing spot, if you’re into that.
Have you climbed Castle Rock? Did you love it as much as I did?