The Lowdown: Cape Palliser’s Putangirua Pinnacles Walk

I feel pretty rapt that I get to officially kick everything off with this hike.

It’s such a “follow-your-nose” kinda enterprise, this one.  Like, ‘Day Hiking in NZ: 101’.

But allow me to digress just a smidge, and get us there.

I drive out to the Pinnacles Walk from Wellington City.  I go past Upper Hutt, over the Rimutaka Hill to Featherston, and from there I take the Revans Street turn-off to Martinborough.  If this is the route you take, and you make like you’re heading out to a place called Lake Ferry, then eventually you’ll be able to get on to the road that’ll take you to Cape Palliser and the Pinnacles Walk.  You can’t miss the turn-off to the park.

It’s a beautiful drive, jam-packed with rustic building feels, old-style bridges, the odd pioneer-looking church, and lush-as trees that shade the road and provide the appropriate ambience for where you’re going.

And if you’re anything like me, then you’ll likely have your best home-girl with you, and all your favourite tunes and treats on-the-go in your vehicle of choice.  Drake was my go-to guy today – I was raised with bass, and I love it.  A few pop ballads may have also rated a mention, just quietly.

Whatever your taste, it’s all about the “feels”, I reckon – whatever “feels” right, and makes you “feel” good.

I’m totally that girl who drives and sings her heart out.

I’m not sure whether it was a combination of the stunning spring weather we’ve been blessed with this weekend, or it being a holiday weekend here (*Labour Weekend), or even whether it’s a case of this place being a spectacularly badly-kept secret these days, but the camp-site was packed-out.  Lovely to see it so inhabited, and respectfully so.

So, you park-up and you head-in.  And this is where you begin the process of following your nose: immediately.  My advice no matter what is to follow the most obvious path.  I say this because for the first 500 metres or-so as you enter the Pinnacles Walk there are bunches of apparent detours and deviations here-and-there.  If I were to describe them, I’d say they tend to look a wee bit more intrepid than the most obvious path – like, with a fair few obstructions (in terms of access, and low-lying trees), and significantly more rugged terrain.  Stuff like that.

The most obvious path will get you to the sign-posted intersection that offers you either one of two choices: up, or down.

Go up.

If you go up, then you’ll encounter clearings and flat patches of ground that can serve as wonderful vantage points for actually seeing the Pinnacles.  And, you get the ‘workout’ aspect of the hike out of the way first-up, rather than at the latter end of a big trudge up the stream-bed.

The incline on this track is a little steep, but not uncomfortably so.

When you eventually wind and grind your way to the summit, there’s a look-out platform that offers-up a wide-lens view of exactly why you’re there.

Head back down the other side of the hill – but take care, it is steep.  I heavily encourage wearing hiking boots or shoes with traction for this walk.  This part is precisely where they’ll come in handy, and you’ll be grateful for them – trust me.

Take the option at the bottom to pop-out at the stream-bed.  Walk yourself up here, and you’ll find you’re at the base of the Pinnacles before you know it.

Save something in the way of kai for this (^), so you can sit and soak it all up for a smidge.

You can head as far up the stream-bed as you like (^).

Do take care, though – the area itself is prone to random rock-falls, so scan thoroughly, and notice everything.

A small and perfect Pinnacles’ cast-off I found on the floor of the stream-bed.

Because I’d been previously, I found that this time ’round I explored a lot more.  The stream-bed at this time of year has these humongous dips and trenches, so it’s easy to feel intimidated by the surrounding landscape.  In saying that, it’s also a mighty fine opportunity to ease yourself into some pretty rad nooks and crannies, and be super-nosey.

Common sense does tend to prevail though, I think.  When you take a moment to reflect on the possibility of a rock dropping on your head from the heavens above, and the incredibly profound amount of damage that that would no-doubt inflict upon you, it’s a “no-brainer” (*sorry*, couldn’t help myself).

I’m all for being intrepid and inquisitive.  But seriously, “fuck that” to being stupid, or reckless.  Don’t be an egg.

When you’re ready, walk yourself back down the stream-bed all the way to the bottom, and follow it right.  The stream itself is not too major – a trickle, mostly.

You’ll need to skip across it a few times, but no matter.  You can’t really wander too far wrong, I reckon.  After all, if you’re here then clearly you did manage to successfully follow your nose all the way in to the Pinnacles.  Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the triangular orange markers that’ll lead you all the way out to the car-park.  When you can see the ocean, you’re sussed.

‘Haere pai atu, hoki ora mai nei’ (or: “Go well, and return safely”);


2 thoughts on “The Lowdown: Cape Palliser’s Putangirua Pinnacles Walk”

  1. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this topic here on your web site.

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