Located at the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Punakaiki sits between Greymouth and Westport. Small in size but larger than life, its best features include the phenomenal Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, magnificent Paparoa National Park, beautiful coastal sunsets and exciting surfers’ waves.
Like many places in the world, Punakaiki’s peak season remains in Summer but I wouldn’t miss it during the Winter if I were you. Most people would pass her by amid the cold chilly atmosphere, but perhaps this is the time where one can identify Punakaiki’s beauty more distinctly. After all, you’d (seemingly) have the entire place to yourself. 😀
Here’s what not to miss in Punakaiki!
Pancake Rocks & Blowholes – Tide Timing Matters!
Imagine huge columns of peculiar rock formations with limestone layered like a stack of thin pancakes! Formed 30 million years ago by intense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments, the Pancake Rocks is one of its kinds. Nestled within are impressive blowholes that one will witness only at high tide – so do time your visit well! To check tide timings, click here!
If you are lucky, you might see the local Hector dolphins from afar or even a rainbow (like me!). For time-constraint individuals, you would be glad to know the track is a mere 20-minute loop that’s suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. This might also be the reason why most people stop for a short visit during their road trip rather than to spend a night.
The Best Pancake in Town!
Prior to my trip, I have read numerous reviews of overpriced pancakes with mediocre taste from the Pancake Rocks Café (located conveniently opposite the Pancake Rocks formation). Thus, the only items that I purchased from this café were Tip Top ice-cream, an intensely sweet pastry and a lime milkshake (at times I do question my choice of drink).
Eventually, I did manage to find the best pancake in town! Going further down the road, one will come across the cheerful Punakaiki Tavern and its friendly owner with a crinkly smile. Providing both sweet and savoury pancakes (huge portion at reasonable prices!) amid a warm atmosphere, this is definitely the place to be!
Fickle Weather of the West – Useful Apparel!
My first experience with the fickle weather of the West Coast had me opening and closing the umbrella with every few steps that I took. I must have looked like an idiot but lucky for me – the road was empty. Unsure of how to react to this unpredictable weather? Bring along a hooded windbreaker or a raincoat. Trust me, it’s bound to be handy.
Unique Personalised Post!
I have an obsession with postcards and stamps. To me, the best souvenir I can ever received would be a postcard from afar. If you would like to share your unique experience at the Pancake Rocks with someone back home, you would be pleased to know that the visitor centre sells stamps that feature the scenic Pancake Rock formation! Such scenic stamps of New Zealand attractions are limited to selected destinations. International postage for postcards currently costs $1.90 – $2. For more information, check out New Zealand Post.
Free Telecom WIFI
It seems ironic that I am unable to connect to network, when my data provider is Telecom – whom coincidentally provides free WIFI at selected tourist attractions. Punakaiki is one of them. Watch out for the Free WIFI sign. Free access to network is available near the visitor center, but take note that its radar is limited to a super small land area. Walk a bit further and you shall be “disconnected”. It shouldn’t matter though, because you are on vacation after all. Disconnect to stay connected.
Sun, Sand, Sea and Surf!
If you are here during summer, then you are in for some exciting and mean surf! On the other hand, if you are sports-handicapped laidback like me, why not sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular West Coast sunset? Write something in the sand and let the wind carry it away. Indulge and play 🙂
Trekking at the Paparoa National Park
Look forward to 30,000 ha of varied landscape from lush West Coast native rainforest and mountain tops, to expansive rugged beaches and coastline! The amazing thing about New Zealand tourism lies in the numerous healthy, informative and engaging activities that one can experience for FREE. The Paparoa National Park is one of them. For more information, check out the Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre and I-site located directly opposite the track entrance leading to the Pancake Rocks.
Snapshots of my journey
The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. Check out http://www.punakaiki.co.nz/ for more information on Punakaiki, West Coast of South Island, New Zealand.