Visit Punakaiki, West Coast, NZ

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  • Punakaiki is a small settlement at the mouth of the Pororari River, situated on a narrow strip of flat land below the Paparoa Range of mountains. Limestone rock formations carved by rivers and sea are fascinating to view and great for climbing and caving.

    Walking along the rugged, sculpted coastline, one is likely to see seals, sea birds and, possibly, New Zealand’s rare Hector’s Dolphin. Horse trekking, surfing and fishing are also popular along the coast. Visitors can venture inland by canoe or on foot, to explore lush forest, and rugged gorges that offer opportunities for rock climbing and exploring caves.

    Within the settlement, there is a number of art and craft galleries, a beauty spa, and cafes and restaurants that are great places to view seabirds returning to land at sunset

    Accommodation in Punakaiki (NZ)

    Punakaiki has a wide range of accommodation that includes many options for self-contained living, such as self-contained units, cottages, luxury apartments and holiday homes for rent.

    There are also motels, bed & breakfast establishments and resort lodges.

    Motor camping and backpacking are catered for at a holiday park.

    Transport around Punakaiki

    Punakaiki is about 35 minutes’ drive north of Greymouth and 45 minutes south of Westport, on the well-maintained and scenic coastal road, State Highway 6.

    Inter-city and tour coach services regularly visit the area, drawn by the natural wonder known as the “pancake rocks”.

    Air and train transport from Christchurch to Greymouth can be followed by a short shuttle bus ride to reach Punakaiki. Alternatively, flights are available from Wellington to Westport, to be followed by coach travel south to reach Punakaiki.

    Tourist Activities around Punakaiki

    Punakaiki’s famous pancake rocks and blowholes (where seawater erupts through eroded rock) are just a short walk along the coast south of the settlement, beneath low cliffs. There are further coastal walks to the north. These wild beaches are fascinating for marine life, which can include seabirds, dolphins, seals and whales, as well as for the jetsam washed ashore, including shells, bones and precious stones.

    The Punakaiki coast is also good for surfing and surf-cast fishing.

    Guided walks and horse treks ensure that visitors see the best sights, and are informed about them. There are also guided walks inland, some of which feature caves and unusual rock formations that are great for climbing and abseiling. Another way to travel inland is by kayak tour, journeying up the Pororari River.

    Other adventure touring options are within easy reach of Punakaiki, including white-water rafting and caving.

    Within the settlement are a tavern, café and restaurant, as well as a beauty spa and a number of art and craft shops, including an artists’ cooperative gallery and a glass bead making workshop, where visitors can watch the manufacturing process.

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