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New Zealand is a remarkable destination and one that is a huge hit with nature lovers. Lots of undeveloped land, lush greenery and stunning coasts make both the North Island and the South Island extraordinary places to visit and enjoy the great outdoors.
Travelers eager to go beyond the cities and explore a new part of New Zealand might be drawn to Punakaiki and the appropriately named Pancake Rocks. Delve into what makes this attraction so unique as well as what to do while on vacation in the area.
All About the Pancake Rocks
More than 30 million years ago, water pressure began to compress organic matter like plants and marine life on the seabed, and it did so in unusual layers. Seismic action then raised the seabed above the surface of the water.
Then, for thousands of years, the Tasman Sea pounded against the coast of Punakaiki, a small town on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. In the process, the compressed organic matter eroded, layer by layer, to create incredible natural structures.
The Pancake Rocks today look like stacks of pancakes, with each layer of what is now limestone stacked one on top of the next. These rock formations are definitely the major reason to visit the Pancake Rocks destination, but also included in the attraction are blowholes that spurt water from the sea between many of the stacks of Pancake Rocks.
Combined, this is a surreal landscape that looks out of this world and is a definite must-see for those who enjoy photography or nature.
Getting to the Pancake Rocks
The Pancake Rocks are located in Punakaiki on the South Island of New Zealand. If you want to fly as close as possible to the geological formations, then the small airports of Hoktitka or Greymouth are your best options, although both have limited domestic flights.
Alternatively, you could fly into one of the bigger airports on the South Island like Nelson or Christchurch and make the scenic drive yourself. The journey from Nelson to Punakaiki takes just over three hours and the drive from Christchurch takes approximately four hours.
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Along the way, you might spot national treasures like the Fox Glacier or Arthur’s Pass National Park. There are also limited bus services from Punakaiki to the city of Greymouth.
Nearby Attractions in Punakaiki
Although the Pancake Rocks and blowholes are the biggest reason to visit Punakaiki, it is certainly not the only attraction worth exploring in the region. You might want to hike through the Paparoa National Park or stroll along the coastline and try to spot dolphins playing just out at sea.
The Paparoa National Park i-SITE Visitor Centre is also open seven days a week and can supply visitors with suggestions or maps for much of the surrounding area.
Handicrafts are a big part of the local economy, so don’t leave without shopping for unique souvenirs like hand-carved jade jewelry, sculptures made from greenstone and traditional New Zealand knives expertly crafted from wood.
For a chance to see truly stunning natural formations in a beautiful destination, head to the Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki in New Zealand.