Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes – both of which are spectacular and a must-see when visiting the West Coast.
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 Department of Conservation 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.
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.