Tales behind the Trails

Bring your favourite trails to life by discovering the stories beyond the tracks.

Famous spooky scene from Lord of the Rings: Putangirua Pinnacles

Recreate a famous scene from the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the Path of the Dead.

Putangirua Pinnacles is an out of this world track, 2-hours from Wellington, exposing you to ancient rock formations. These extraordinary, giant rock creations are an outcome of thousands of years of erosive forces of rain and storm water travelling down the Putangirua Stream.

Film buffs will recognise this famous location as the scene from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Path of the dead. For director Peter Jackson this location on already on his raider after using it in his Dead Alive aka Braindead (1992).

Take the riverbed track to the base of the Pinnacles and pretend to be Aragon and Legolas on their journey down Dimholt Road off to form an army of the Dead.

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Putangirua Pinnacles track
Putangirua Pinnacles
The Putangirua Pinnacles Wairarapa
Matiu Somes Island overview
Muritai Park Track people on the track Somes Island and Wlg in the background
Matiu Somes Island lighthouse

Fighting global pandemics: Matiu Somes Island

The island in the middle of our harbour holds so much history if you take the ferry out and explore it for yourself.

Keeping diseases’ out of our nation was different in the late 1800’s. All new arrivals were quarantined on Matiu Somes Island and were made to sit in the smoke house in fumes of chlorine, potassium nitrate and sulphur for 10 minutes to get rid of lice!

In 1872, make-shift accommodation was built on the Island when the ship ‘England’ arrive with several cases of smallpox, creating a quarantine station. In 1919, the barracks were built in anticipation protecting the nation from the influenza pandemic.

Today the Island is used as predator-free scientific reserve you can visit by taking a short ferry ride. Not only will you see incredible 360-degree views, but you will see remains of the quarantine station, barracks and smoke house.

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Blood was spilt: Red Rocks

Take an adventure along the rugged shoreline of the South Coast of Wellington. Explore the track by foot, bike or 4WD and make your way to the colourful red rocks.

You’ll notice the rocks are red in a particular area, Māori legend says, the colour of the rocks is because Kupe, the first Polynesian explorer to come to New Zealand was gathering Paua. Suddenly, one clamped his hand and the bloody split stained the rocks beneath him.

Another legend, it says the bloody is from Kupe’s daughters. Fearing their father would come home after a fishing excursion they cut their breast with grief.

Science explains, 200 million years ago the rocks were formed because of an undersea volcanic eruption. The rocks are actually ancient pillow lava getting their distinctive colour from traces of iron oxide!

Spot seals if you are planning on taking on this track between May and October because seals are prepping for breeding season.

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Red Rocks Coastal Track_people walking down the track
Red Rocks South Coast Wellington beach rugged
couple walking at red rocks
Couple walking trail in Queen Elizabeth Park
Couple walking on the wavy dune lands of Queen Elizabeth Regional Park
Queen Elizabeth Regional Park couple admiring the view from bridge

American troops’ safe haven: Te Ara o Whareroa

Walk or ride along the wavy dune lands of the Kāpiti Coast, from Raumati South to Paekākāriki on the Te Ara o Whareroa trail. Extending from Queen Elizabeth Park in Paraparaumu all the way through to Tilley Road in Paekākāriki.

Back in World War Two, Paekakariki was a major base for American Marines who were fighting in the Pacific Campaign. While on your walk notice the steep surrounding hills which the marines called home, using this land for res, recreation and training; marching and mortar practice. They even used the beach to stage invasions coming from sea!

Look out for the commemorative plaque, flags and interpretation panels at Queen Elizabeth park that recognise the aid United States Marines gave to our region.

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World-famous railway site: Remutaka Old Rail Trail

Walk or cycle through the hidden railway tunnels once used for connecting people between the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.

Before the current train system, the Remutaka Tunnel, was built in 1955, people travelling between the Hutt Valley to Wairarapa commuted along the mountain tops.

As a temporary solution, until there was enough money for a tunnel, New Zealand choose English engineer John Fell’s friction system to concour the 4.8km incline on the Remutaka rangers. Great success in 1877 created a picturesque mountain journey for travelers until one day sparks caused the surrounding bush to go up in flames.

It was technically remarkable how the original 1877 equipment operated at full power for 77 years. That’s why the world knows the incline as one of the most significant railway heritage sites in the world!

Today, adventure seekers use this as a walking and cycle track taking them through tunnels, hilltops and to oceans.

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Remutaka Cycle Trail_two people mountain biking restored bridge
Remutaka Cycle Trail_ people mountain biking on Cape Palliser
Remutaka Cycle Trail_people mountain biking Cape Palliser
Two women walking the Southern Walkway
Southern Walkway people walking up Mt Victoria background Wellington City
Southern Walkway two women walking and talking on the South Coast

Truby House: Southern Walkway

Take a stroll around the impressive garden and house which resided founders of the Plunket Society - a system helping children and parents we still use today!

The Southern Walkway stretches out from Oriental Bay to Island Bay where you’ll take in some of the best views of the city. In the middle of the track, in Melrose, you will spot Truby Park and House where Dr. Fredrick Truby King and Lady Isabella, co-founders of the Plunket Society (1907) lived, and are buried.

Thanks to Truby King, communities and local clinics were formed across the country providing mothers education in domestic hygiene and motherhood. These clinics, to this day, give mothers a place to learn how to practice King’s ideology of regular feeling, sleeping and bowel habits.

After three decades, the Plunket philosophy was credited with giving the country the lowest infant mortality rate in the world!

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