Families looking for a unique and enriching experience will find Punakaiki to be a haven of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. From the famous Pancake Rocks to the tranquil Pororari River, Punakaiki offers a range of family-friendly activities that promise both excitement and relaxation without breaking the bank.

The Village is Small, but the Scenery is Huge!

Despite its modest size, Punakaiki captivates visitors with its breath-taking landscapes. Surrounded by lush rainforests, dramatic coastlines, and limestone formations, the village is a gateway to nature’s wonders. Families will be enchanted by the serene atmosphere and the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Located right on the coast it is just a short walk to the rock wall and beach. Whilst not being recommended for swimming it is an excellent beach to walk and a great place to let the kids wear off ‘4 hours stuck in a car energy’.

Visit the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

A must-see attraction in Punakaiki is the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes and it won’t cost you a thing! These unique limestone formations, resembling stacked pancakes, are a geological marvel. Families can take a leisurely stroll along paved pathways (suitable for prams and strollers), marvelling at the fascinating blowholes that shoot seawater into the air during high tide. The experience is both educational and awe-inspiring, making it a hit with children and adults alike. It will take 20-30 minutes to walk the full loop and you may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins from the clifftops.

Walk the Truman Track

For a family-friendly outdoor adventure, explore the Truman Track. This easy 30 minute (return) walking trail offers breath-taking views of the rugged coastline and provides access to a secluded beach during low tide. Surrounded by native flora, the Truman Track is a perfect opportunity for families to connect with nature while enjoying a leisurely walk suitable for all ages. There’s a parking bay on the right hand side of State Highway 56 (heading north).

Punakaiki Cavern

Embark on a short but magical journey into the Punakaiki Cavern. A wooden staircase leads to this underground wonder, where families can marvel at stalactites and discover the mesmerising world of glow worms. The cavern adds an element of mystery to the Punakaiki experience and is sure to captivate the imagination of both children and adults. We recommend parking in the Punakaiki village and walking up the dedicated path from the rock bank to access the caverns (take care with crossing the Highway though).

Take a Drive Along the Scenic Coast

Take in the breath-taking beauty of the West Coast by embarking on a scenic drive. The coastal roads offer panoramic views of the Tasman Sea, with opportunities to stop and explore hidden gems along the way. The journey itself becomes an adventure as families wind their way through lush landscapes and enjoy the freedom of the open road. Here are some top spots to stop:

  • Cape Foulwind: Located an hour north of Punakaiki you can take a short walk to the lighthouse for some scenic snaps or a longer stroll to Tauranga Bay where you can check out the local seal colony.
  • Constant and Joyce Bays: Just a few minutes from Charleston this delightful bay is the perfect spot for a picnic on a fine day.
  • Irimahuwhero Lookout: If you’re looking for some spectacular coastline scenery, call in to Irimahuwhero Lookout located about 2km north of Punakaiki.
  • Motukiekie Beach Walk: This stunning beach is a hidden gem best visited 2 hours either side of low tide. Located halfway between Rapahoe and Barrytown it’s well worth checking out. At low tide you’ll spot interesting rock formations, rock pools and sea bed formations. You may even spot a seal!

Pororari River

Pororari River has a to offer families visiting the region from gentle forest walks and tranquil swimming spots. For children able to hike longer distances they can tackle the last part of New Zealand’s 10th great walk – the Paparoa track which ends on this river. For a unique and active family experience, consider hiring a canoe from Waka Puna to explore the Pororari River and its limestone gorge. Paddle through the calm waters, surrounded by pristine rainforest, and witness the natural beauty that Punakaiki has to offer. This hands-on adventure allows families to bond while immersing themselves in the stunning scenery.

Lunch at Punakaiki Rocks Hotel and Garden Bar

After a day of exploration, refuel at the Punakaiki Rocks Hotel and Garden Bar. Indulge in delicious hearty meals while sitting in the garden bar area, surrounded by the natural beauty that characterizes Punakaiki. The menu caters to various tastes, ensuring that both kids and adults find something satisfying to recharge their energy for more adventures.

Punakaiki, with its small village charm and colossal natural beauty, is an ideal destination for families seeking a memorable and diverse experience. From the iconic Pancake Rocks to the enchanting Truman Track and the mystical Punakaiki Cavern, every corner of this coastal paradise promises adventure and discovery. With activities catering to all ages, Punakaiki invites families to create lasting memories against the backdrop of New Zealand’s stunning West Coast. With only a 4 hour drive from Christchurch, Punakaiki should be your next weekend or school holiday destination.