Swingbridge Track

Swingbridge Track

Kaitoke Regional Park


16 Rankers Reviews

16 Face-to-Face

13 Hutt Valley

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


Deep Nature

FREE MAP - The best of 21 nature guidebooks on one map.

Online Maps

FREE Header

Deep Nature NEW

Author Marios Gavalas, Rankers and hundreds of contributors bring you a free web map to help you get lost (and find yourself) in Aotearoa's nature.


2 km return | 45 minutes return

Early European settlers set about plundering the forest around Kaitoke and logging continued well into the 20th Century. The Benge family were notable pioneer settlers and ran a sawmill on SH2 at the Plateau Road intersection in Te Marua. Today over two thirds of the original forest is mature indigenous and 22% more is in the process of regeneration. This track explores some of the best forest remaining.


Kaitoke Regional Park has a network of tracks to suit all abilities. It is well furnished with toilets, picnic areas and a campground. The main entrance is off SH2 at Waterworks Road, 12 km north of Upper Hutt. Pakuratahi Forks is a further 2 km, from where most tracks start.

The start of the track is signposted at the Pakuratahi Forks (Rivendell) parking area.


The even metalled track crosses the swingbridge over the Hutt River at Pakuratahi Forks and heads right.

For 20 minutes it passes through the podocarp/broadleaf forest with huge rimu and rata piercing the canopy.

Cross the flume bridge over the Hutt River and pass the Strainer House, returning along the sealed road.

The 10-minute Terrace Walk signposted on the right is a more interesting return detour, passing through dense forest on a former river terrace. It exits just before the junction with the Ridge Track and Pakuratahi River Walk. The Terrace Walk is suitable for wheelchairs.

Back on the sealed road, shortly after exiting the forest, a signpost on the right leads to Rivendell, the Elven settlement in Part 1 of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Pass the huge boulder with the plaque inscribed “Where men and mountains meet, great things happen” and cross the road back to the carpark.


The Wellington Fault has shattered a belt of rock up to 200 metres either side of the weakness and this has aided its breakdown through erosion and weathering. The intense fluvial erosion of the Hutt River has balanced the tectonic uplift, forming the sheer walled gorge and a series of river terraces.

Polynesian History

In pre-European times Ngati Tara, a tribe descended from Whatonga, arrived in the Hutt Valley and cultivated small patches on the banks of the Hutt River. Later, Ngati Rangi and Ngati Ira settled the area. In 1819, a war party led by Te Raparaha overcame Ngati Ira in a battle at Pa Whakataka.

Kaitoke roughly translates as kai (food) and toke (worms). Apparently Maori journeying to the Wairarapa would camp in the area before crossing the Rimutakas. All they could find to eat were worms.

European History

Possibilities of using the Kaitoke catchment for Hutt City and Wellington’s water supply were first mooted in 1906, but it was not until 1957 that the necessary intake weir, treatment station, tunnels, pipelines, reservoirs and pumping station were completed.

The Te Marua Water Treatment Plant takes water from the Kaitoke Weir and gravity feeds it through a short tunnel, over the flume bridge to the strainer house. An aqueduct tunnel then transports the water under Kaitoke Main Ridge to the Stuart Macaskill storage lakes at Te Marua, which hold 3,000,000,000 litres


The set of Rivendell took 3 months to build and converted the grassed areas to walkways with arches and columns. The back drop was digitally enhanced in the post-production stages to show waterfalls and a more surreal light. Around 360 crew were on site filming the Rivendell scenes.


Feature Value Info


North IslandWellington RegionHutt Valley


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 16.

Anna-Lena's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

The track along the Hutt River was very nice and easy to walk, so not as exciting as other walk. But the swingbridge is always fun!

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Alna's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

The views over the Hutt River were the best thing about this track. The track itself was not very special although it was still beautiful.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Christopher Emerich's avatar

Christopher Emerich


Ranking: 6/10

Nice spot, where Lord of the Rings was filmed. Anyway, the area is crowded with people on good weather days. Unfortunately, those people made a lot of noise.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Jorge Anderson's avatar

Jorge Anderson


Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful place with a perfect camping ground.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Avoid Camping Fines!

Each camping location is approved by a regional council in NZ. So if it shows on the map, you’re allowed to stay.

The Rankers Camping NZ app, is also in association with…

Jan Berendsen's avatar

Jan Berendsen


Ranking: 10/10

Swing bridge walk was awesome.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Heike Schreiber's avatar

Heike Schreiber


Ranking: 6/10

A nice bushy area close to Wellington where we hiked around for two hours. The Rivendell area was not super exciting, because almost everything from the Lord of the Rings was removed, but the forest itself is beautiful.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Rocio Lucero's avatar

Rocio Lucero


Ranking: 8/10

Nice walking track. Not many things referred to the movie Lord of the Rings.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Emily Pohlmann's avatar

Emily Pohlmann


Ranking: 7/10

Funny to see the places where the Lord of the Rings was filmed for real.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Camping NZ App Icon

Camping NZ App

Every camping site on your iPhone™, iPad™ or Android™ phone or tablet. Avoid camping penalties using this council approved app. Featuring offline maps.

Download from the App Store Download Android app on Google Play

Stella and Merle's avatar

Stella and Merle


Ranking: 6/10

Many walkways - a swingbridge, a forest and a river. Only one part of the path was a bit disappointing because it left the forest and went along a road.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Briony's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

You can take a short or long walk around the forest. There were information boards telling/showing you where parts of the film were set, the campsite there was brilliant.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Kyle Johnson's avatar

Kyle Johnson

United States

Ranking: 7/10

a fairly busy spot with little parking but home to one of the Lord of the Rings filming sites. Little to nothing is left of the set but there are other activities to do here. Many, perhaps too many, came to the Elves River to swim.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago

Taylor Fabricius's avatar

Taylor Fabricius

United States

Ranking: 7/10

Sadly, the set from Lord of the Rings was taken down, but they provide you with a map so one can see where the crew had filmed. It is in a lovely location and many trails are located in the park.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago

Leeann Newton's avatar

Leeann Newton

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Lord of the Rings fans will spot a 'tree' used in the film. More impressive is a 40min to 1 hour loop walk with huge nature trees - truly impressive bush and good family walking, dogs allowed.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in February 2014