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.

Putangirua Pinnacles. Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
Putangirua Pinnacles

It is one of the best examples in New Zealand of badlands erosion and earth pillar formation.

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 accomodation.

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.

Please remember

  • 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.

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