- Beach / Seaside Resort
Whilst touring along the roads of New Zealand, I came across Punakaiki and can tell you it's one of the prettiest parts of the west coast on the South Island. The landscape took my breath away - I was in another world; a parallel universe where time stood still. The peace that reigns over this region is perfect if you want to unwind and let go.
There's a great walk of about three hours along the Pororari River. It takes you uphill but it's not a difficult hike.
I'll also never forget the beautiful sunset over the Tasman Sea, a moment made even better by the fact that it wasn't riddled with tourists!
Punakaiki is located halfway between Wesport and Greymouth, along the superb West Coast Drive, one of the country's most scenic routes. With its steep cliffs, enormous, windswept beaches, and impressive waves breaking on the shore, the west coast is so beautiful it takes your breath away. Add clear skies to the picture, and you can't help but be won over by the charming landscape. If you are coming from Abel Tasman, you can't help but be dazzled by the view, with the raging, west-coast waves contrasting with the peaceful, crystal-clear landscapes of the parkland.
Punakaiki is well known for the Pancake Rocks, which are limestone rocks that have been worn away by the elements, and named because of their resemblance to a pile of pancakes. Even though you might have to concentrate to see pancakes in the rock formations, I found the site breathtaking. The waves that break beneath the rocks only add to the beauty of the place. I also enjoyed the Pororari-Punakaiki trail, which follows the course of the calm Pororari River, which is largely left alone by tourists, unlike the Pancake Rocks.
The tiny village of Punakaiki itself has very little of interest to offer, except for a small café and a tourist information office where you can find out about the activities that are on offer in the region.