Punakaiki's 6 Must Do's
Stand Up Paddleboard Tours
Waka Puna offers Kayak, Stand Up Paddle boards and E-Bike Cruiser rentals into the heart of the Paparoa National Park, 1km north of the Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki..
Families and beginner paddlers can enjoy the peaceful Pororari River and lagoon with its majestic limestone gorge and lush rain forest.
For more info see their website https://riverkayaking.co.nz/
The Most Beautiful Half Day Walk
Once you reach the Punakaiki River walk out to the highway then loop back to the beach camp. The longer route takes about three hours.
This short track begins in beautiful sub-tropical rainforest featuring ferns, nikau palms, rimu, rata and more.
Nearing the beach it passes through coastal flax flats before emerging onto a
headland with stunning views up and down the coastline. Steps lead down to a beach with cliffs, caves, a waterfall and amazing rock formations.
At low tide you can walk north and further explore the rugged coastline. The track to the beach takes about 15 minutes. Allow longer if you want to explore the beach.
When a heavy swell is running saltwater is pushed at great force through holes in the limestone rock, exiting as fine spray mist many metres above sea level. The blowholes at full blast are an amazing sight.
The cavern features glow worms, the larvae of a large mosquito-like fly. To survive they build traps made of vertical hanging threads of silk. The silk thread is studded with sticky droplets of mucus to catch small insects attracted by the light.
The Most Beautiful Half Day Walk
It crosses the Punakaiki River via a footbridge, and then follows an easily graded climb through mature rain forest over the ridge dividing the two rivers.
When the Pororari River Track junction is reached, it is worth carrying on along the Inland Pack Track for a short distance to the Pororari River, a perfect place for a rest and something to eat. Return to the junction and then follow the Pororari River Track down river to the car park on SH6. From there it is a 1km walk south along SH6. to the Visitor Centre.
Suitable footwear should be worn to complete the track, and you should allow 3 hours.
The track begins in the beautiful sub-tropical rainforest of ferns, nikau palms, rimu, etc. Nearing the coast it passes through typical West Coast coastal flax flats before emerging onto a coastal headland with stunning views up and down the local coastline.
A stairway leads down on the north side of the headland to a fine gravel beach featuring cliffs, caves, a waterfall and amazing rock formations. The beach is accessible at low tide where you can walk north and further explore the rugged coastline. Truman Track at low tide offers rock pools for the whole family to enjoy.
Allow approximately an hour return, to fully explore the track and the beach.
Pancake Rocks walkway is a loop track that winds from the main road, through the native rainforest and into flax and coastal vegetation as it nears the rugged coastline.
The blowholes, the main attraction of the walkway, are active at high tide – check in at the Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre for times. When a heavy sea swell is running, saltwater is pushed at great force through holes in the limestone rock, exiting as a fine spray mist many meters above sealevel. The blowholes at full blast are an amazing sight.
Allow approximately 45 minutes to explore and take photographs.
Five minutes walk north from the campground is the Punakaiki Cavern, hidden away on the eastern side of the main road. Car parking is available on the sea-side of the road, slightly north of the cavern. Take care when crossing the road.
The cavern features glow worms, the larvae of a large mosquito-like fly. In order to survive they build traps consisting of vertical hanging threads of silk. The silk thread is studded with sticky droplets of mucous to catch small insects that are attracted by the light. In actual fact they are not worms at all.
There are also stalactites in the cavern, formed when calcium carbonate and other minerals, drip from the cavern ceiling over time, eventually creating hanging formations tapering down to pointed tips, resembling solid cones.
Right next to the Beach Camp you will find the Pororari Lagoon. A beautiful 30 minute walk. Best around sunset will allow dramatic views up into the Paparoa National Park and out to Dolomite Point.
“The boot”, an interesting sandstone rock at the river mouth is always great to watch the waves crashing up and around.