See nature’s power in full force. There’s a rugged beauty about Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes where an unrelenting drama plays out as the mighty Tasman Sea crashes into these iconic limestone formations.
The West Coast’s most visited natural attraction is a fascinating sensory spectacle and an incredible contrast with the sublime palm-filled glades and tranquil trails of surrounding Paparoa National Park. Prepare to be blown away (by the scenery).
Powerful natural forces are at work at the spectacular Pancake Rocks & Blowholes on Dolomite Point.
Rising from the sea at Dolomite Point, the Pancake Rocks are part of a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through underwater channels and escapes via vertical blowholes.
These rocks, dating back some 30 million years, formed as layers on the sea bed which eventually rose under seismic action. Since then water, wind and salt spray have been constantly eroding the softer layers leaving a ‘pancake’ stack of harder limestone.
The easy Pancake Rocks Track is a 20-minute loop but double (or triple) that to leave enough time to view the blowhole action. It’s most impressive at high tide so check tide times at the Department of Conservation visitor centre opposite.
Hikers on the Paparoa Track Great Walk in Paparoa National Park.
Punakaiki — a friendly little cluster of accommodation hotels, resorts and eateries — sits on a stunning coastline surrounded by lush forests of nīkau palms, craggy limestone cliffs, canyons, caves, beaches and rivers.
This is the western fringe of Paparoa National Park and one end of the Paparoa Great Walk — a multi-day hike which traverses alpine tussock lands and mountain tops before descending to the coast.
Around Punakaiki, there are outdoor activities for every ability and thrill level from gentle walks to picture-perfect beaches, through forests and along the riverside to kayaking, caving, horse-riding or guided tours.
Nature is on show everywhere you look here and the visual treats begin well before you arrive in Punakaiki because it’s conveniently located at the halfway point on the Great Coast Road, acclaimed as one of the Top 10 Coastal Drives in the World by Lonely Planet.
Take your time. The Great Coast Road — running between Westport in the north and Greymouth to the south — is a spectacular road trip that features glorious coastal vistas, compelling photo ops, lovely picnic spots and fascinating heritage sites.
Follow the scenic Great Coast Road to Punakaiki and stop off to watch the waves in action at Pancake Rocks.
At Hokitika Gorge nature creates an awesome visual sensation of glorious colours and outstanding beauty.
Lake Brunner, the West Coast's largest lake, is a favourite holiday spot and world-class trout fishing destination.
Haast is the gateway to the remote and untouched conservation jewel, Te Wāhipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area.
Experience extraordinary limestone arches, caves, whisky-coloured wilderness rivers and lush rainforest in Kahurangi National Park.
Discover New Zealand’s twin glaciers and most diverse alpine to coastal landscape.