Punakaiki is one of the largest tourist attractions on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is best known for the unique and spectacular Pancake Rocks and Blowholes and is the centre of the magical Paparoa National Park - 30,000 ha of varied and rugged landscape from mountain tops to sea level.
There are many activities to choose from including scenic nature walks, horseback riding, canoeing, caving, cycling, surfing, tramping, or just sitting and enjoying the scenery - with a glass of wine in hand.
Some Fresh Air & Stunning Scenery?
Between mid-morning coffee or maybe before an early evening aperitif, take a stroll or two along the beach to view the magical west coast sunsets, or take to the bush where most walks provide spectacular scenery. Limestone gorges & caves will marvel you, as will the glow worms! Below are some walks we highly recommend please visit the local Paparoa Park Visitor Centre for full maps. This is located 3 kilometers south on the main West Coast Road.
The Seas Natural Sculpture The Pancake Rocks
The Pancake Rocks are accessible via a 10 minute walking track through bush to the coast. Upon arrival you are blessed with the sights of this uniquely raised and eroded sea-bed. These rocks have been formed by stratified limestone which have been weathered over millions of years. At high tide the ocean flows into the rocks with such force that the ocean erupts up into a water spout. The blowholes can be a spectacular sight and should be visited at high tide for maximum excitement! The tide times are posted on a board outside the DoC Visitor Centre. The first part of this walk is suitable for wheelchairs, with assistance.
An Easy Stroll? - Truman Track
For little exertion and plenty of reward, this walk entails a short stroll through coastal forest to a beach with caves and a waterfall. Walk back up Hartmount Place (towards the hills) for about 100 metres and turn right into Ross Place. Another 80 metres find the notice Access track to Beach and Truman Track. Follow this track over a small stream to connect with the Truman Track, right to the sea and left to the main road. From Flax Haven it takes only 5 minutes to meet the big Tasman Sea and its glory.
Not Afraid Of The Dark? Punakaiki Cavern
Located 5 minutes from the DOC Visitor Centre, this cave is ideal for the whole family to explore. Torch necessary and no
Meander along a river side? Pororari Inland Pack Track
Drive south 2 km to the Pororari Bridge and enter the car park on the SW side. Follow the DOC track under the bridge. This track meanders along the side of the scenic Pororari River and is spectacular on a good day. At the junction with the Inland Pack Track, a little over an hours walk, you can turn left and ford the Pororari River (knee deep) and continue through to Bullock Creek, another two hours, or you can turn right and cross the saddle to the Punakaiki Valley (river crossing) and follow the road back to your car, another couple of hours.
Bullock Creek and Cave Creek
Drive up the Bullock Creek Road, (first left from the Highway 6 going south) to the locked gate. (Check that it is OK to drive your Rental Car on a gravel road). Walk 30 minutes to Cave Creek. You will be marvelled by the huge moss covered boulders and resurging water.
Fox River Cave
Marvel at natures artwork and this magical cave. Track starts at the Fox River Bridge, 10 kms towards Westport, and follows the north bank of the river. You might have to paddle through some side streams if there has been rain. Follow the track to the caves, about 1.25 hours from the road. Please take care not to cause any damage to the formations. Take a minimum of two torches and mind your head! For further exploration, cross the Fox River at the notice and continue upstream to the Ballroom Overhang. This spectacular natural shelter is reached after further river crossings (knee deep or so) and takes about 2 hours from the road.
Make sure you stay at Flax Haven Sea View
Retreat Punakaiki Accommodation