Stunning natural beauty, tonnes of adrenaline sports, incredible wineries. New Zealand is known for many things, and pretty high up on that list for a lot of people is Lord of the Rings. As most of us know, the film series was shot here. And with Director Peter Jackson living just a few suburbs away from me in Wellington, there are quite a few filming locations on my doorstep.
I recently decided to check one of those out – the Putangirua Pinnacles. These incredible rock formations double as the Dimholt Road or Paths of the Dead in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
They’re in the southern Wairarapa near Cape Palliser, about an hour 40 minute drive from me. The drive itself is pretty scenic, after winding through lush green fields we were rewarded on the coastal road with amazing views out into Palliser Bay.
Once you arrive there’s a DOC car park and campsite with info boards about the different tramping (hiking) routes available. We did the Pinnacles via streambed route which takes about an hour and a half in total. I think it took us about 2 as we stopped to take a lot of photos on route.
It was a blazing hot day and the walk is very exposed so if you’re planning it, make sure to take sunscreen! The walk itself is easy though. You follow the streambed from the car park. I was keeping an eye out for fossils– something the area is rich in. We found loads!
After following the streambed for a while, you walk through a small section of bush. We really appreciated the brief shade! The streambed itself is mostly dry and the few river crossings we made were super easy with lots of boulders to jump on.
Then you come out into the valley and turn left to walk up a deceptively steep incline. The boulders rise up around you in as the valley walls. I recommend walking right to the top and then exploring all the little crevices and narrow walkways through the pinnacles.
Even on a sunny day the place is pretty spooky. Although maybe that’s because I can’t shake the feeling that I’m walking through the Paths of the Dead haha! As you explore the little side paths off the main valley the pinnacles block out the light making it feel eerie.
The pinnacles are the result of hundreds of thousands of years of erosion creating hoodoos – thin columns of rock that stand guard over the valley. The sediment that makes the valley walls is soft to the touch and filled with embedded shells and fossils. The shapes they formed were really interesting, one even looks like a side view of an Easter Island head.
We spent a while at the top, exploring the paths between the pinnacles and taking tonnes of photos, before heading back the way we’d come to the car. I highly recommend this easy, short hike Putangirua Pinnacles. It’s ideal for a quick day trip out of Wellington. You can always stop off in Martinborough on the drive home and reward yourself with a wine tasting.
Love, Sarah xx