At high tide the ocean sprays up through the blowholes at Punakaiki's pancake rocks
Punakaiki blowholes, West Coast

By Rob Suisted

Dolomite Point, Punakaiki
Dolomite Point, West Coast

By vtveen

Ocean spray splashing up through Punakaiki's pancake rocks
Punakaiki , West Coast

By West Coast Tourism


Gaze in wonder at the Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes, where columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of hotcakes.

Nature began this work of art about 30 million years ago. Over thousands of years, alternating layers of small marine creatures and sand became buried and compressed on the ocean floor. This created areas with multiple layers of hard limestone and softer sandstone. Earthquake activity then lifted the ocean floor high and dry, and those slow motion artists - the rain and the wind - began to erode the softer sandstone. The outcome is cliffs and ravines with hundreds of horizontal slices along their vertical faces, like huge stacks of pancakes.

In many places, deep inside the cliffs, narrow vertical air shafts created by the rain met with horizontal tunnels created by the pounding ocean. Today, around high tide, the ocean swells rush headlong through ever-narrowing tunnels and force large amounts of water and compressed air to race upward through the vertical shafts. The result is a hissing, heaving, thumping countryside that rhythmically emits geyser-like plumes of salt water. In a strong westerly swell, this creation of nature is a very impressive sight.

The small west coast settlement of Punakaiki plays host to visitors who come to see the famouss pancake rocks and blowholes. Here you’ll find a variety of accommodation, from hostels and homestays to self-contained cottages; there’s also a range of eating places and galleries. Local operators provide horse treks, canoe hire, caving, guided walks and rafting adventures.

Functional facts: Approx. population 70, Department of Conservation Visitor Centre, limited shopping.

Content courtesy of Tourism NZ

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Beach Hideaway - Accommodation in Barrytown New Zealand
9.40 49 Reviews
Beach Hideaway offers rustic-style wooden villas, just a short 10-minute drive from Punakaiki. Each villa has a covered deck with built-in seating that offers panoramic views of the Tasman Sea. Each of the villas comprises separate bedrooms, a living/dining area and a fully equipped kit... (more)
Paparoa Park Motel - Accommodation in Paparoa National Park New Zealand
8.50 43 Reviews
Paparoa National Park
Set in a quiet coastal bush environment, overlooking Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and close by Paparoa National Park, a worthwhile location between Nelson and the glaciers to break your journey, to walk through native rainforest and along rugged beaches. Quality studio units built in natural... (more)
Punakaiki Beach Camp - Accommodation in Punakaiki New Zealand
9.20 21 Reviews
Gateway to Paparoa National Park, 1km to Pancake Rocks and blowholes. 30 tent sites, 20 power sites, 2 kitchen cabins, 8 standard cabins. Communal kitchen, fridge/freezer, microwave, dining room, heating, laundry, phone, carwash. Tour bookings by arrangement, ideal situation for day trips,... (more)
Punakaiki Beachfront Motels - Accommodation in Punakaiki New Zealand
8.30 252 Reviews
Punakaiki, Punakaiki
Located alongside Paparoa National Park, 30 metres from the sea, Punakaiki Beachfront Motels are 5 minutes’ walk from Pancake Rocks and local cafes and restaurants. All accommodation offer outdoor seating and cooking facilities.Accommodation options include self-contained cottages and hous... (more)
Punakaiki Resort - Accommodation in Punakaiki New Zealand
8.40 598 Reviews
Punakaiki Resort is modern accommodation situated on Punakaiki Beach in the West CoastGuests can choose from two styles of accommodation - Standard Resort Rooms or Eco Suites. The resort has been designed in an environmentally conscious way. The award winning Waterline Restaurant is locate... (more)
Punakaiki Tavern - Accommodation in Punakaiki New Zealand
8.00 41 Reviews
Tavern and accommodation, situated in the village, 1k north of the blow wholes or pancake rocks.Halfway between Westport and Greymouth.Adjacent to the Paparoa National Park. 2 minute stroll to the river and beach.Open 7days 8am till late.9 En suite studio units,Adjacent to the Tavern. All ... (more)
Te Nikau Retreat - Accommodation in Te Miko New Zealand
8.40 272 Reviews
Punakaiki, Te Miko
Just 3 km from North of the Pancake Rocks, Te Nikau Retreat offers a range of unique accommodation, from lively dormitory rooms to self-contained cottages and lodges that are all nestled in the native forest. There is a free pick-up service in Punakaiki from the Intercity Coach Terminal up... (more)
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