Day 5 - Wellington to Featherston

This morning started off with a valuable lesson - "don't rush shit". After yesterday's mammoth drive down the rest of the North Island, I was all set to hop on the first ferry this morning. Well, wouldn't you know it - every single ferry was cancelled today as a result of the weather. It doesn't end there though, every ferry tomorrow (except for the 8pm one) has also been cancelled. I quickly jumped on the phone this morning once I realised how bad the situation was, and managed to wrangle a seat on the 8pm crossing - but man did I pay for it.

After I'd finished sulking, and had a stomach full of breakfast; I started trying to figure out what I should do for the next couple of days. Then I saw it, another Lord of the Rings filming location only a couple of hours out of town. I made sure there was a campground nearby enough, and set off.

Along the way, I found myself on quite possibly the most incredible road I've ever driven on. It was also the most terrifying. I'd have been nervous enough driving along it in my little Mazda, but doing it in Gurty the Whale was something else entirely. To top it off, it was also bucketing down with rain, and incredibly windy. In the end, I made it though - and this was the view looking back.

A couple of hours later, and I'd reached my destination - The Putangirua Pinnacles. Or for Lord of the Rings fans; "The Dimholt Road". If you're still not sure, this scene from The Return of the King:

It had been fairly constantly drizzling for the rest of my drive, but once I hopped out of the van it began to bucket down again. Nothing a few extra layers couldn't fix though. I threw on the jacket, and started off on what would end up being a 4 hour circuit.

The trek was much harder than I'd originally thought it would be, with some rather steep climbs, and pretty dense boggy sections - but before long I'd climbed all the way to the top of the mountain. I still hadn't seen anything resembling the Dimholt Road though. Then over the next crest, it finally appeared.

I had to go down and get a better look, so I took the next path and spent another half hour finding my way into the gorge. Take note of some of the people in the shots below to get an idea of size - the Pinnacles themselves are bloody enormous!

A tip for anyone ever going to see the Pinnacles, if you hear any kind of movement to the side of you, don't think - just get into the middle of the track. The amount of boulders falling from the sides of the track were incredible, some of them roughly the size of my torso. Seeing one that size come barrelling down where I had just been moments earlier was a bit concerning.

A couple I'd met earlier on the walk told me that to get back to the car park, all I had to do was follow the river. Any other day this would have been great advice, but today the river had risen up considerably higher than usual - which made things tricky (take note in the photos below, the river getting larger. That kept happening after I'd stopped taking pictures!). After about the fourth time doubling back on myself to cross at an easier point, the novelty of the adventure had worn off a bit, and I was ready to get dry.

Roughly 4 hours after I'd started, I finally made it back to the car and was on my way to tonights accommodation (Featherston Motel & Camping).

In hindsight, the rescheduling of the ferry was a blessing in disguise. Had I have gone today, I would have completely missed out on the Pinnacles - which would have been a real shame. For now though, my fingers are crossed that the weather holds out just long enough for me to get across tomorrow night!

Photographer from Melbourne's Eastern Suburbs. I like coffee, and doing internet things. Nice to meet you.