Rocks. Every country has them, and for the most part we tend to ignore them unless they’re falling off cliffs or being thrown in our general direction. But then there are rocks that amaze and fascinate us like The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland or, one of our favourites, Wave Rock in Western Australia.
Here in New Zealand, we have our own interesting rock formations and most famous of them all has got to be Punakaiki’s incredible Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, situated about 40 km north of Greymouth on the South Island’s West Coast. If you’re touring the South Island, a road trip along the picturesque Great Coast Road (Highway 6) should definitely be on your itinerary in which case it’s pretty much mandatory to stop and stretch your legs at Punakaiki.
The rocks themselves are just a short walk from the Paparoa National Park visitor centre parking along a well maintained pathway. The looped walk will take you anything from about 20 minutes to an hour depending on how many photos you feel compelled to take… which will be many. There are also several signs along the way with interesting facts and information on how these limestone layers were formed some 30 million years ago.
The multi-layered rock stacks, narrow channels and churning surge pools are certainly a sight to see, but it’s at high tide, particularly on big swell days, when things really become interesting. That’s when the blowholes come alive. Unfortunately when we visited, time was against us, so we didn’t get to experience them as much as we would have liked. But that just means another visit is called for and next time, we’ll spend more time exploring not only the rocks but also Punakaiki Cavern and nearby Truman Track. We may even try some real pancakes at Pancake Rocks Cafe?