Out Of This World: The Putangirua Pinnacles In New Zealand.
My one-month trip across New Zealand included both the North and South Island. Part of my trip was planned according to filming locations of LOTR. On the North Island, this included Hobbiton, the Tongariro National Park, as well as Cape Palliser. Cape Palliser might not ring a bell for any LOTR fan, but what about the Putangirua Pinnacles? Still no light at the end of the tunnel? Then the ‘Paths of the Dead‘ is all you need to hear.
The Help Of The Army Of The Dead Is Needed.
The ‘Paths of the Dead‘ is a haunted pass through the White Mountains. The Army of the Dead accompanied Aragorn to Minas Tirith to defeat Sauron’s orcs, after which Aragorn declared their curse lifted. This scene was filmed at the Aorangi Forest Park where you can’t miss the sight of the weird rock formations of the Putangirua Pinnacles – an amazing collection of hoodoos.
An Unease Feeling.
Cape Palliser itself is an area only very few tourist visit, plus it’s only sparsely populated. During my entire trip, I’ve never felt uncomfortable about hiking by myself or being the only person for hundred of miles; my visit to the Putangirua Pinnacles thought me right! Let’s just say, a serial killer would have his fun down here…
Since I had to get to Wellington on the same day, I decided I would start my hike early in the morning. I packed up my backpack and camera equipment and drove the 13 kilometres along Cape Palliser Road until I reached the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve. By the time I got there, it was 7.20 am. The camp-site was empty apart from one creepy looking truck and a camper van. From the time I got there, I had a weird feeling, yet my mind was set: I wanted to see these breath-taking pinnacles. The first ten minutes into the track where fine.
And then it hit me: No cell-phone reception, complete stillness, no one around me and that truck at the camp-site. Shivers went down my back and I started realizing, why Peter Jackson chose this place: The eerie stillness really gets to you! I tried focusing on the surroundings, but I couldn’t help to turn around every couple of metres to make sure no one was following me…
One Hour – And Lots Of Sweat – Later.
Finally, after sweating like crazy (due to my running), I reached the Putangirua Pinnacles. It was an impressive sight. And my unease feeling was gone all over sudden. I simply focused on the surroundings and absorbed every minute. Visiting these ancient Putangirua Pinnacles and absorbing the stillness of the ‘Middle-earth’ setting was breath-taking and super scary at the same time!
Length: Three routes lead to the Putangirua Pinnacles from the camp-site. Allow2 – 3 hours for a round trip. For a longer walk, with excellent views of Palliser Bay, allow 3 – 4 hours for a round trip.