There’s literally stacks to see on tour in Punakaiki! Stacks of rocky formations, that is, and some impressive blowholes, some amazing walks, remote rugged beaches and – quite probably – some seals and maybe even dolphins!
Paparoa National Park
Located on one of the most spectacular coastal highways in New Zealand, Punakaiki is also the gateway to Paparoa National Park which is brimming with natural wonders: limestone landforms, granite mountain ridges, narrow river canyons, subtropical rainforest merging with cooler climate trees and plenty of marine wildlife. It’s a magical part of the world with plenty of opportunities to explore and adventure the natural beauty, or just take some time to unplug, which is why a Punakaiki tour stop is a must. Some of our tours stop here for a couple of nights.
If your visit to Punakaiki coincides with a high tide and a south-westerly swell, you have the best chance of seeing the three blowholes perform. In fact, you may hear them before seeing them as the swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks – that’s your cue to get your camera ready!
How Were the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Formed?
The pancake rocks started forming 30 million years ago (or thereabouts) when miniscule fragments of dead marine plants and creatures settled on the seabed about 2 km below the sea’s surface.
Tremendous water pressure solidified these layers into limestone that over time was overlaid by softer (sandstone) layers.
The process repeated until geological movement eventually and gradually pushed the limestone above the seabed and coastal erosion whittled away the softer layers leaving limestone stacks of ‘pancake’ rocks for us all to admire.
Photo Credits: West Coast
Tours including Punakaiki
Legendary NZ Tour
Our Legendary Tour lives up to its name, with stupendous scenery, bucket loads of adventure and eye-opening cultural experiences.View tour
Epic NZ Tour
Discover more of NZ than most New Zealanders, as you thoroughly explore the best of both the North and South Islands.View tour
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