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Punakaiki

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Punakaiki is on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island and has the Department of Conservation Centre for the surrounding Paparoa National Park.

It has great coastal scenery and is best known for the Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes.

Get in

By car

The long drive in (2-3 hr) from Nelson winds through the Buller Gorge before it nears Westport and is scenically interesting almost the whole way, but along narrow, winding, roads. The final 50 min drive south from Westport is along a truly stunning coast after you reach the sea.

From the south, you'll have to pass through Greymouth. Punakaiki is approximately 3.5 hr drive north of Fox Glacier.

By bus

  • Intercity Coaches operate coaches from Nelson to Greymouth, which stop in Punakaiki once per day in each direction. Coaches often stop for a refreshment stop here, which allows a quick 15 minutes or so looking at the Pancake Rocks.

Get around

See

  • 1 Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes (Dolomite Point). The Pancake Rocks are picturesque limestone formations that look curiously like stony stacks of pancakes after being pounded by the Tasman Sea for tens of thousands of years. The blow holes funnel blasts water up to 15 m (50 ft) into the air as the waves crash into the caverns below the rocks. The best spouts are caught at high tides with westerly waves (usually signposted at the information centre) but a leisurely 20 min walk around the boardwalks is still great even without timing your visit. 
  • 2 Punakaiki Cavern. always open. Small cave which can be explored - bring a torch. free. (updated Dec 2019)

Do

  • Punakaiki Horse Treks, +64 3 731-1839. Guided two and a half hour treks leaving morning and afternoon. Ride into Punakaiki river valley and Paparoa national park and finish along the beach. $125 per person with a two person minimum for the standard tour, personalized tours for $175. Closed during the winter.
  • 1 Pororari River Track. A track follows the otherworldly Pororari River valley from just north of the pancake rocks. Go as far as you feel like or get to the intersection with the track to Punakaiki town - the whole circle down the two rivers and then over the coastal hill including the pancake rocks takes about 4 hours. (updated Oct 2019)
  • Punakaiki Canoes, ☏ +64 3 731-1870. 
  • 2 Nature's Tours, Punakaiki Canoes building (1 km north of Punakaiki Information Centre), ☏ +64 3 731-1442. Specialised guided tours exploring the coastlines and forests of the Paparoa National Park. $45-400. 
  • Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track. The Paparoa Track is a "Great Walk" for walkers and mountain bikers opening in December 2019. For walkers the track runs from Smoke-ho car park to Pororari River car park. The track is 55km and there are three huts available from pre-reserved accommodation. The Pike29 Memorial Track is a branch of the track which will open in December 2020, going to the site of the former Pike River Mine. The Pike River Mine was a coal mine which exploded in 2010, killing 29 miners. (updated Oct 2019)

Buy

  • Punakaiki Crafts, State Highway 6, +64 3 731-1813. Co-op owned and featuring changing displays of greenstone, wood, glass, and other materials. Summer, 08:30-19:00; Winter, 09:00-17:00.

Eat and drink

  • Punakaiki Cafe, State Highway 6, ☏ +64 3 731-1813. 
  • 1 Punakaiki Tavern & Bistro, State Highway 6 and Owen Street, ☏ +64 3 731-1188. Daily from 08:00. 
  • Rata Cafe, State Highway 6, ☏ +64 3 731-1151. Summer, open 7 days; Winter, W-Su.. Views of the sea. 
  • Seascape, ☏ +64 3 731-1168. Located on the beachfront with views of the Tasman Sea. Opening at 07:00 for breakfast and then staying open for lunch and dinner. 
  • Wild Coast Cafe, ☏ +64 3 731-1873. Daily 08:00 to sunset.. Groceries and liquor also available. 

Sleep

  • Havenz Punakaiki. Punakaiki Canoes Building (1km north of Punakaiki Info Centre), +64 3 731 1442. Luxury homes and holiday apartments, in the bush or on the beaches. 
  • 1 Hydrangea Cottages, ☏ +64 3 731 1839, fax: +64 3 731 1838. Five cottages set into the rainforest with stunning sea views. Studio and family suites available. $185-$295 per night for 2 people, more people extra. 
  • 2 Paparoa Park Motel, ☏ +64 3 731 1883, toll-free: 0800 72 72 76. Five studios, 3 family units. $120-$150. 
  • 3 Punakaiki Beach Hostel, 4 Webb St, ☏ +64 3 731 1852. Tent sites, NZ$14; 5+ bed dorm, NZ$19; 5 or less bed Share, NZ$21; Twin room, NZ$24; Double room, NZ$24; Single room, NZ$35. All prices per person and with BBH discount. If not a BBH member, add NZ$3. 
  • 4 Punakaiki Beachfront Motel. Studio and family cottages available. +64 3 731 1008. (updated Oct 2019)
  • 5 Punakaiki Beach Camp, Owen St, ☏ +64 3 731 1894. Cabins and campsite. (updated Oct 2019)
  • 6 Punakaiki Resort, ☏ +64 3 731 1168, toll-free: 0800 786 2524. 63 room hotel with luxury eco units, deluxe rooms, and luxury standard rooms. (updated Nov 2019)
  • Punakaiki Tavern Accommodation, State Highway 6 and Owen St, +64 3 731 1188. Nine ensuite studios.
  • 7 Te Nikau Retreat (YHA), Hartmount Place, ☏ +64 3 731 1111. A hostel just north of town. (updated Oct 2019)
  • The Beach House, Mabel Street, ☏ +64 3 789 7942. 4 bedroom self-catering house from $240. (updated Oct 2019)
  • 8 The Rocks Homestay and Bed & Breakfast, ☏ +64 3 731 1141. Hartmount Place. 3 ensuite rooms: two queen, one twin. NZ$110 - NZ$175 for double or single occupancy. Evening meals NZ$40 - NZ$50 with extra for wine. 
  • Wave Watchers Retreat, ☏ +64 3 332 0635. Two bedroom home with kitchen and other features. Approx NZ$250 for first night and NZ$200 for each additional night for two people. 

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