Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
The Pancake Rocks at Dolomite Point near Punakaiki are a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes.
The foundations of the Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago when minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface.
Immense water pressure caused them to solidify into layers of more resistant limestone and softer, thin, mud-rich layers.
Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed where water, wind and salt spray eroded the softer layers leaving a "pancake" like stack of harder limestone.
Walk the Pancake Rocks track
Part of the Paparoa National Park, the Pancake Rocks are accessed by the easy Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk right in the centre of Punakaiki.
Allow 20-45 minutes to walk the whole track. The first part of the track is wheel chair accessible and offers some good interpretation panels to learn about the geology of the area.
Carry on and you will head up and down stairways cut into the rock faces and cross over a natural limestone bridge and Surge Pool. Trust us - your camera will get a full workout.
Pancake Rocks & blowholes at high tide
Along the way, there are some impressive blowholes that are best viewed at high tide.
Check at the local Department of Conservation visitor centre for the times. Be ready, when they are pumping they provide a loud "whoosh" and can get you with some sea spray.
Keep your eyes open as Hector's Dolphins like to play close to shore. This is one of the West Coast's most impressive natural wonders, so allow more time than you think you'll need - you won't regret it.
While you are here see if you can make out the 'faces' described on one of the interpretation panels near the end of the Pancake Blowhole walk - if you are good at spotting things it won't take you or the kids long to see it.