Lord of The Rings, The Pinnacles & Seal Colony

Today we visited the place where the "Paths of The Dead" sequence in "The Lord of The Rings; The Return of The King" was filmed. The Putangirua Pinnacles are located right at the bottom of the North Island, a remote & quiet part of New Zealand that's not yet on the radar for international visitors. The scenery we enjoyed as well as The Pinnacles themselves, led us to agree that this will not last.


The amazing Putarangi Pinnacles, located at the end of an hours walk from the roadway on the southern coast of the North Island.

The Pinnacles

Returning down the trail towards the sea after visiting The Pinnacles and not a Hobbit to be seen. 


The track follows a creek bed from the car park, an easy climb, although the gradient increases towards the end so most people (including us) were a little out of breath by the time we reached the best viewing area.

At the start we were passed by a couple, chatting away happily in what we decided was Russian. When we encountered them again, about 30 minutes later, they looked a little worse for wear and had obviously decided to throw in the towel, because the last we saw of them was disappearing back down the trail. Fifty yards on, we turned a corner and the whole vista of the Pinnacles appeared before us. There has to be a lesson of some sort here!


Putangirua Pinnacles, the LOTR site is located in the cross-hairs on this map. We can easily add the Putangirua Pinnacles to your New Zealand vacation and we suggest you allow enough time here, a full day, to also explore the wild and remote southern coastline of the North Island. Click here if you would like to know more.

If you have the time and are feeling adventurous, drive further around the coast to the Palliser Lighthouse. Here's how Tourism New Zealand describes the experience.

Cape Palliser and the Fur Seal Wildlife Colony

The road to Cape Palliser is dramatically scenic. This area of New Zealand has a rich history of early Maori occupation and heritage sites are part of the fascinating landscape. For the final part of the journey, the road clings to the edge of the coast, providing superb views of Palliser Bay. Check out the quirky fishing village of Ngawihi before you drive on to the lighthouse.

Installed in 1897, the Cape Palliser lighthouse will test your fitness. Take a deep breath and climb the 250 steps. Once you're at the top, it's easy to see why this area of ocean was known for seafaring disasters. During the 19th century, there were about 20 ships wrecked in or near Palliser Bay.

The fur seal colony at the cape is the North Island's largest. New Zealand fur seals have pointy noses, long whiskers, visible external ears and bodies covered with two layers of fur. The breeding season is from mid-November to mid-January. Pups start to feed on solid food before weaning, and spend a large proportion of their day playing with other pups and objects such as seaweed and reef fish.


Towards the end of the drive, although in good condition, the roadway is not sealed, so proceed cautiously.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Jan 04, 2017