About Punakaiki, West Coast, New Zealand
Punakaiki is the gateway to the dramatic limestone country of the Paparoa National Park. It lies halfway between Greymouth and Westport on one of the most spectacular coastal highways in New Zealand.
The Punakaiki township has a National Park i-SITE Visitor Centre, café and tearooms, craft shop and plenty of car parking. The surrounding area is scattered with accommodation – upmarket hotel apartments, boutique bed & breakfasts, self-catering motel units, a campervan and camping ground, and backpacker accommodation.
Tourism activities include canoe adventures, horse trekking, caving and guided tours to name just a few. Punakaiki has many colourful local crafts people – jewellers, carvers, painters and potters.
Within a few minutes drive of the Punakaiki township are many walks for various fitness levels – take a 10 minute stroll along the beach or equip yourself for a overnight trip into the heart of the National Park.
The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
The Pancake Rocks that Punakaiki is famous for, are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay.
The seabed was raised above sealevel by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations we see today.
When conditions are right, heavy ocean swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge water spouts blast skywards through the blowholes in a truly spectacular sight.
View the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 360° Panorama – you may need to download the Quicktime plugin.
The Coast Road
Punakaiki is located near the centre of the “Coast Road”, one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. The roads are well sealed all the way. To allow time to stop and enjoy some of the walks and coastal views, we recommend allowing much longer than the drive times given in most travel guides.
Punakaiki in the Media
Driving the West Coast of NZ, 28/05/2010 – Stuff.co.nz Travel Section
Six favourite places to go in summer, 1/1/2009 – Stuff.co.nz Travel Section
Riding the rails to revisit Punakaiki, 21/10/2008 – Stuff.co.nz Travel Section