The unusual rock formations of the Putangirua Pinnacles in Wairarapa.

The Putangirua Pinnacles are spectacular earth pillar formations and a well-known filming location.

The rock formations are inland from Cape Palliser, in the wild, southern part of the Wairarapa. Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve provides opportunities for walking, camping, and exploring the area.

Heavy rain and flooding helped form the pinnacles over the last 120,000 years by gradually eroding an ancient gravel deposit. The cemented silts or rocks within the gravel beds are more resistant than the underlying sediments, giving the rocks the tall, thin appearance of hoodoos.

The landscape provided a surreal backdrop during the filming of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

There is a car park at the entrance to the reserve, off Cape Palliser Road. Vehicles are not allowed in the streambed.

The walk along Pinnacles Track is an easy two to four hours, depending on the route. It also provides excellent views of Palliser Bay and Lake Ōnoke.

Location details

Jurisdiction South Wairarapa District Council, Department of Conservation
Permits required Yes, contact Screen Wellington
Location descriptors Unusual landforms, caves, barren, canyons, cliffs, rock formations, alien landscapes, lunar terrain, extraterrestrial features, mystical geology, chasms, alien terrain, peculiar landmarks, unearthly landscapes, caverns, surreal landforms, walking tracks, campgrounds, campsites.