Punakaiki perfectly represents the ‘untamed natural wildness’ title given to the West Coast of the South Island.  Traditionally known for it’s world famous “Pancake Rocks”, the area has much to offer visitors and definitely more than meets the eye…

Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

This incredible natural rock formation is most definitely worth exploring and is accessible to all level of fitness.  Layers upon layers of tiny marine creatures and sand have been compressed over thousands of years, eventually creating this distinctive pancake or “hotcake” style pattern in a network of cliffs and chasms.  As a result of the narrow air shafts and horizontal tunnels in the rocks themselves, at high tide the ocean swells create geyser-like plumes of spray into the air, followed by a chorus of ocean-song from the water and rocks alike.  An incredible sight and sound to behold.

The walk is a short 20 minute loop from the car park, with the main track accessible for all ages and abilities, including being wheelchair and pushchair accessible.

Paparoa Track Punakaiki

If you are after more of a 3-4 day rather than 20 minute walk, then the Paparoa Track is for you!  Crossing the Paparoa Range, this track is 55km will start at the small township of Blackball, finishing in Punakaiki.  Mountain bike, walk, skip or crawl – this is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks for good reason, taking along alpine ridges, limestone rocks, rainforests and showcasing some of the most incredible views on this planet.  Definitely one for the bucket list. Check out this article from a Scenic team member who walked the track in 2021.

Scenic Hotel Punakaiki is located a short distance from the two Paparoa Track exits. Hikers coming down the Pororari River exit to the north of the township will finish about 2km away from the hotel, cyclists (and hikers) exiting via the Punakaiki River will end up about 500 metres from the hotel. Either way, you can reward yourself with a cool dip in the river followed by a blissful hot shower, a sumptuous meal, and a luxurious nights sleep.

If you want to leave your belongings and vehicle in Punakaiki, Scenic Hotel Punakaiki is happy to store your luggage and your car can be left safely in our onsite car park. There are a couple of ways you can be taken to the start of the track:

1. Self drive and arrange a car relocation from Blackball to Punakaiki or

2. Book a shuttle service departing from Punakaiki

Sunsets, Sports and something for everyone

For outdoor sports enthusiasts there is plenty to occupy your days with – surfing, stand up paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, kayaking…. Plus plenty more activities for those who are active at heart!

And let’s not forget to make time to sit back and enjoy the incredible colours of a West Coast sunset. Punakaiki has some of the best locations to sit and enjoy in style, not in the least sitting by a roaring fire with a glass of wine and cheese platter at the Scenic Hotel Punakaiki.