Around seven million years ago, the Aorangi Range 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 this ancient layer of gravel to the erosive forces of rain and floods. Some of the sediments stayed concreted together, while others washed away. The result is the Putangirua Pinnacles 'an amazing collection of hoodoos'.
This outlandish place was used as a filming location for the 'Paths of the Dead' scene in the Return of the King, the third movie in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
To find the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve, drive about 13 kilometres along Cape Palliser Road from the Lake Ferry turn-off. The reserve has a camping ground and a choice of walking tracks. Three of the walks lead to the pinnacles. you need to allow about three hours for the round trip.