3 Hrs 7 km


  • Filming location for Lord of the Rings
  • Scenic reserve
  • Breathtaking views



You don't have to travel far to find yourself in another world. The Putangirua Pinnacles are just an hour's drive from Martinborough.

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.

Three routes lead to the Putangirua Pinnacles or the lookout and all start from the streambed. From here, you can take the loop track junction and on to the lookout above the Pinnacles. Continue uphill for a longer walk and spectacular views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke.

Department of Conservation

Track conditions often change. Be prepared by checking with the Department of Conservation before you go.

Pinnacles Track(opens in new window)

More information

Alternative routes

For a more direct route to the lookout, walk up the streambed to the base of the Pinnacles and turn left onto the loop track. This track climbs steeply to the lookout and meets up with the bush walk.


Getting there

This walk is in Aorangi Forest Park. It starts in Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve, 13 km along Cape Palliser Road from the Lake Ferry turn-off, about one hour’s drive from Martinborough. 


Need to know

Watch for falling rocks on the streambed walk.

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