Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk: One Of The Most Unique Walks In New Zealand

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Waaaay back in 2012 when I went to New Zealand, one of the things that we did was the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk.  I wish that I actually wrote something about it back then, but I didn’t, so here we are.  Eight years later.

While I don’t remember many specifics of the walk, I do remember really enjoying the Pancake Rocks of New Zealand.  These strange rocks are right along west coast with the waves crashing on the shore below.  It was an easy walk up and down the tops and sides of the pancake rock formations.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

While you’re walking along the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk, you’ll notice a bunch of blowholes around you as well, at least if you visit at the right time, which would be around high tide.  These are just a cool thing to see, especially from above.  This is a great little stop on a road trip to break up a drive, stretch your legs, and see some cool geological formations.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

So, what are the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks?

The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are a limestone formation that started forming 30 million years ago and have been heavily eroded.  They started forming as dead marine creatures and plants on the sea bed those 30 million years ago and over time they solidified into hard and soft layers thanks to immense water pressure.

Finally, sometime between 30 million years ago and less than 30 million years ago, the formations were gradually pushed up and out of the water and seabed from seismic action.  The strange shapes of the rocks were formed from mildly acidic rain, wind, and seawater.  Geology is wild.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

So, how about those blowholes?

Ahh, I was hoping you would ask.  The blowholes are water being pushed out of the caverns below during high tide (that’s why it’s the best time to see them) spraying huge walls of water up into the air.  While they are most powerful at high tide, you can still see them when it’s lower, so don’t worry too much about totally missing them.  You may get a little wet here, so watch out for that.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

How long is the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk

The Pancake Rock and Blowhole walk is a 1.1 KM loop.  It doesn’t take too long to walk to the whole thing.  I would plan 20 minutes to 1 hour to see it all depending on your pace and how much you stop.

How much is it to visit the Pancake Rocks in New Zealand?

Free!  There is no cost to see the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park.  How great is that?!

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

Where is the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk

The Pancake Rocks are in Paparoa National Park (which officially became a national park in 1987) just over an hour from Greymouth.  They are just under three hours from Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier.  Specifically, they are at Dolomite Point by the tiny town of Punakaiki.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

What to bring on the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.  They may not be totally necessary on this walk, but could be good throughout Paparoa National Park.

Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry!  I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese.  There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.  Anything from a store nearby would be good too.

Water bottle – Whether it’s hot or cold, you’ll want to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must, at least on the sunny days.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and you want to be prepared.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Punakaiki rocks new zealand pancake rocks

Overall, I would definitely recommend a stop at the Pancake Rocks and blowholes if you’re doing a New Zealand road trip.  They’re a quick stop and just a really unique thing to see, kind of like the Moeraki Boulders.  Nothing Earth-shattering, but still really cool.

Have you done the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks walk in New Zealand?  Do you want to?  What is your favorite walk in New Zealand?

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