Putangirua Pinnacles

Image: Philip Norton | Creative Commons


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

Place overview


  • Camping
  • Walking and tramping

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

About this place

Nature and conservation

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.

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

  1. Starting from Whangaimoana go south-east on Cape Palliser Road.
  2. Continue on this road for 10 km.
  3. There is a sign showing the entrance on the left side of the road. This is the entrance to the carpark for this reserve.

The turn-off and campsite are 500 m past the Department of Conservation Te Kopi Homestead and Cottage accommodation.

Reserve entrance details

Location: GPS coordinates -41.449483, 175.221505

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.


Kapiti Wellington Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 4 384 7770
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   18 - 32 Manners Street
Postal Address:   PO Box 10420
The Terrace
Wellington 6143
Whakaoriori / Masterton Office
Phone:   +64 6 377 0700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   masterton@doc.govt.nz
Address:   220 South Road
Postal Address:   PO Box 191
Masterton 5840
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