Putangirua Pinnacles

The Wairarapa

Standing like giant organ pipes, these 'hoodoos' were formed by rain washing silt and sand away, exposing the underlying bedrock. It's an eerie landscape, perfectly suited for its starring role as the approach to the Paths of the Dead in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The car park is signposted off Cape Palliser Rd. From here it’s an easy 1½-hour walk to the lookout, or take the 3½-hour loop track past hills and coastal viewpoints.

The pinnacles stand on the edge of Aorangi Forest Park, a significant wilderness area offering backcountry hiking, camping and DOC huts and cottages. Detailed information is available online or from Martinborough i-SITE.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Wairarapa attractions

1. Cape Palliser Lighthouse

11.49 MILES

Get a few puffs into your lungs on the 250-step climb to the base of this candy-striped lighthouse (1897). It's a beaut view from up here, if the wind isn…

2. Coney Wines

15.55 MILES

Fingers crossed that your tasting host will be the inimitable Tim Coney, an affable character who makes a mighty shiraz and may randomly burst into song…

3. Palliser Wines

19.74 MILES

Wines so good, even the Queen has some stashed away in her cellar. A slick outfit, as befitting one of Martinborough's best-known producers.

4. Tirohana Estate

19.95 MILES

Head past the popular restaurant to the tasting room hung with swords and guns.

5. Ata Rangi

19.98 MILES

One of the region’s pioneering winemakers. Great drops across the board and a cute cellar door also selling honey and olive oil. Book a tasting in advance.

6. Schubert Wines

20.01 MILES

Run by German imports who searched for and found the best spot in the world to produce their favourite wine, pinot noir. This compact cellar door is big…

7. Poppies Martinborough

20.08 MILES

Delectable handcrafted wines served by the label's passionate winemaking and viticulturalist duo. Savour the wines alongside a well-matched platter in the…

8. Martinborough Vineyard

20.13 MILES

The first vineyard to plant pinot noir in the region also has the best name: it's a local legend with a sterling international reputation. The cellar door…