Article You like the Lord of the Rings? Explore the Putangirua Pinnacles!
The day before we took the Interislander ferry from the North Island (Wellington) to the South Island (Picton), we planned a little hike around the Putangirua Pinnacles. It was one of the last things left on our North Island Bucket List. It is also a shooting location for one of the Lord of the Rings movies. Maybe you remember the scene where Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli made their way to the army of the dead? No? Than you will definitely remember it when you see the following pictures. It takes roundabout 2 hours from Wellington to reach the Pinnacles. They are located on the south east coast and a 30 min drive away from the most southern point of the North Island, Cape Palliser.
When you are there you will ask yourself how this strange rock formations have been built. Seven to nine million years ago, when the sea levels were much higher, the Aorangi Ranges valley was an island. As the mountains eroded, scree and gravel were washed down to the coast where they formed a sedimentary layer. Over the past 120,000 years the Putangirua Stream has exposed the ancient layer of gravel to the erosive forces of rain and floods. Some of the sediments washed away, while others bonded together. The result is the Putangirua Pinnacles. The current erosion rate is approximately 1 cm per year so, some day they will not be there anymore.
We spent the night at the Gateway Motel & Holiday Park, a 15 min drive away from the Putangirua Pinnacles. It is a lovely and peaceful place, run by a welcoming family with a great living / dining area, clean kitchen, warm water showers, toilets and a pool for warmer days. Unfortunately, we only had time to stay for one night.
After breakfast, we packed our camper and headed to the Pinnacles. You can easily miss the car park due to the stunning view of the rough coast and the ocean. After a u-turn, we finally reached the car park and decided to start with the stream track and explore the pinnacles from the valley. The signs say it will take 45 min to the valley, but it might take longer depending on weather conditions, footwear, and amount of pictures being taken. We chose our hiking boots, which was definitely the right choice since most of the walk leads over loose rocks and right through the stream. It was raining in the days before we arrived, which made the pathways in the forest extremely muddy. The walk through the valley of the Putangirua Pinnacles was definitely our highlight.
Initially we planned on going back to the car park and have another 1.5 hour return walk up to the lookout, but luckily we found a direct path from the valley up to the lookout that took us about 20 min. The view was amazing. If we had to choose between the lookout or the valley, we would prefer exploring the valley. Of course, experiencing both is even better :) After another 45 min walk, we returned to the carpark. We spent around 3 hours with photo stops, lunch break etc. at the Pinnacles. You can also find some information about the tracks here.
Before heading to Wellington, we drove another 30 min to Cape Palliser. We came for the lighthouse, but stayed for the seal colony.