Beyond the ever enthralling spectacle of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, there is another world of beautiful walks and hikes from quiet forest trails to sublime bays and river tracks.
Boots and all is the best way to experience Punakaiki and the Paparoa National Park. Listen to the rustle of the nikau palms beside a pretty beach, explore an underground cavern or try your legs on a section of New Zealand’s newest Great Walk, The Paparoa Track.
Blowholes, spectacular limestone formations, ocean views
Nature’s dynamic forces are on full display at Punakaiki — the ultimate stop on the Great Coast Road, recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful coastal routes. Explore a curious limestone landscape of pancaked limestone rock formations, seething blowholes and surge pools.
Subtropical rainforest, pretty coastal landscape
Emerge from a sub tropical rainforest of nīkau palms, vines and towering rātā on a spectacular coastline with cliffs, caverns, a blowhole, and a waterfall that plummets straight onto a rocky beach.
Karst cavern with stalactites and glowworms
Close to Punakaiki village and beside the Great Coast Road, a set of wooden stairs leads down to Punakaiki Cavern. Take a torch, and look out for stalactites and glowworms along the 130 m of safe passages.
Spectacular river gorge, limestone cliffs, suspension bridge
Test your legs out on a Great Walk — or, at least, a gentle section of the multi-day Paparoa Track. The Pororari River Track is a lovely rainforest walk beside a spectacular limestone gorge and an easy uphill climb to a swing bridge.
Spectacular river valleys, limestone cliffs, mature rainforest
For a longer ‘Great Walk taster’ hike the Pororari River Track then continue on the loop route which links the Punakaiki and Pororari rivers. Highlights include the Pororari Gorge, an easy graded climb through rainforest and over the ridge dividing the two river valleys, and spectacular views.
Descent into a deep narrow chasm, stone memorial
The track crosses a ridge before descending to a narrow rocky gorge surrounded by luxuriant moss and overhanging trees, and Cave Creek as it emerges from beneath the rocks. The stone memorial near the entry to the track commemorates the 1995 Cave Creek tragedy.
Alpine tussocks to coastal rainforest
New Zealand’s newest multi-day Great Walk is a thrilling one-way east west alpine traverse between Blackball and Punakaiki. The trail crosses the Paparoa Range via tussock-covered hills, alpine tops and limestone karst landscapes to finish in lush coastal rainforests.