Putangirua Pinnacles
PHOTO: Philip Norton | Creative Commons

Introduction

Discover earth pillar formations that are some of the best in New Zealand. Camp nearby and explore the surrounding coastal area.

Place overview

Activities

  • Camping
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Putangirua Pinnacles. Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
    Putangirua Pinnacles

    The 'badlands erosion' of Putangirua Pinnacles is a spectacular landscape feature attracting many visitors to the southern Wairarapa.

    When the Aorangi Range was an island, 7 to 9 million years ago, screes poured gravels onto the coast, much as they do today around Cape Palliser.

    The Putangirua Stream has exposed this ancient layer of gravels to the erosive forces of rain and floods. Where cemented silts or rocks within the gravel beds prove more resistant than the underlying sediments, spectacular individual pinnacles or “hoodoos” are formed.

    History and culture

    Lord of the Rings filming location

    The eerie scenes in The Return of the King as Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli ride along the Dimholt Road to meet the Army of the Dead were filmed against the surreal backdrop of the Pinnacles.

    The Putangirua Pinnacles. Photo: Claudia Hill.
    The Putangirua Pinnacles as viewed 
    from the lookout platform

    Protecting the area during filming

    Weed-free fodder was fed to horses used in the Lord of the Rings before they were filmed at the Putangirua Pinnacles. The risk of introducing weeds was addressed through a condition in filming consents required horses to be fed products that could not regrow and were free of seed. The production company also ensured the horses came from gorse and broom-free stables. After the horses had been walked through the reserve to be filmed from a helicopter, their hoof prints were raked over to avoid any impact on the ground.

    Getting there

    Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve is 13 km along Cape Palliser Road from the Lake Ferry turn-off, approximately one hour’s drive from Martinborough. The turn-off and campsite are 500 metres past the Department of Conservation Te Kopi Homestead and Cottage accommodation.

    Know before you go

    • Respect the interests of walkers.
    • No vehicles, including motor bikes, are permitted in the streambed.
    • Rifles must not be carried loaded, nor discharged in the reserve.

    Contacts

    Kapiti Wellington Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 4 384 7770
    Address:   18 - 32 Manners Street
    Wellington
    6011
    Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
    Whakaoriori / Masterton Office
    Phone:   +64 6 377 0700
    Address:   220 South Road
    Masterton 5810
    Email:   masterton@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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