NZ Gps: 41° 26' 52.6344" S 175° 14' 39.2424" E
Towering spires and pinnacles highlight this unique “badlands” area.
Pick your way up the dry streambed and then veer into a left-side gully and you’ll find yourself suddenly surrounded by an eerie grey kingdom. Total “Lord of the Rings” oddness, and, sure ‘nuff, this landscape was featured in “Lord’s” Dimholt Road scene in “Return of the King” (about 80 minutes into the movie.) Putangirua has some of the most dramatic and picturesque geology on the island—don’t miss it if you love unique landscapes!
There are two main options for seeing the pinnacles—either an hour out/back up the dry streambed, or a more challenging 80 to 90-minute loop that climbs through the bush to the upper view platform. Each route features some unstable footing. To simply take the streambed to the pinnacles, make sure you stay leftish when the stream heads right. For the loop I’d go clockwise and do the ascending while you’re full of excitement to see the badlands. Head up the streambed for five minutes and look sharp for the easy-to-miss orange marker on the tree at the stream’s first left bend. Lots of steps lead 20 minutes to the platform, then backtrack and head down to the streambed. Definitely go left and up into the pinnacles before you follow the stream back out. The best photos are made when you’re up the canyon looking back out with the sun at your back.