Putangirua Pinnacles & Cape Palliser Hike

Putangirua Pinnacles & Cape Palliser Hike

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

When: year-round

Where: Aorangi Forest Park, Wairarapa

Difficulty: easy-intermediate

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

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Near the beginning of the trail

jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)
jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)
jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)

First pinnacle sighting!

jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)
jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)
jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)

Path to the Dead, Harrowdale in Lord of the Rings

jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman putangirua pinnacles wairarapa (1)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)

Looking up at Cape Palliser Lighthouse

jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)

Cape Palliser Lighthouse built in 1897

jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (1)

The view from the lighthouse

jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)
jana meerman cape palliser wairarapa (5)

View walking back down from the lighthouse

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