The awe-inspiring Putangirua Pinnacles and the equally majestic Cape Palliser Lighthouse are the two main attractions in Aorangi Forest Park, a beautiful coastal region in Wairarapa.
Wairarapa is a nature-filled area northeast of Wellington. Driving to Aorangi takes just under two hours from Wellington CBD along a beautiful, winding coastal road with views over the surrounding mountains and farms.
The pinnacles are home to the valley of Harrowdale from Lord of the Rings. They filmed the Paths of the Dead here!
I thoroughly enjoyed the walk up to the pinnacles, a trek that takes about 45 minutes each way and requires some stream-crossing and scrambling up some crumbling rock. There's an option to walk along the streambed and look up at the pinnacles (and feel tiny) or to walk along the ridge and look down.
After the pinnacles, we continued another 20 minutes along the coast to visit the red and white striped Cape Palliser Lighthouse that stands proudly up a very steep set of wooden stairs perched into the cliff edge. It's totally worth the view!
PUTANGIRUA PINNACLES HIKE DETAILS
Where: Aorangi Forest Park, Wairarapa
Length: it takes about 45 minutes each way for the ~1.5km trek
Directions: from Wellington, follow the coastal road with signs to Cape Palliser. The DOC marked reserve also has a campsite where the trail starts. You can stay on the stream bed (we did) to see the pinnacles from below or do the ridge walk to see from above; both trails are the same length and take the same amount of time.
Bathrooms: yes, at the parking lot
Public Transit: no