1. Check out the Pancake Rocks
It’s not like you weren’t going to visit them anyway. The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are one of the West Coast‘s biggest attractions which have taken million years to form. Take the 20-minute coastalwalk to see these strange pancake-like formations emerging from the sea and witness the power of the blowholes best seen at high tide.
Location: Just off State Highway 6, 900m south of Punakaiki village.
2. Explore the Punakaiki Cavern
Check out this fun free cavern just off the side of the main road! A short wooden staircase leads into the cavern entrance where there are 138m of passages to discover. Look out for stalactites and glowworms.
Location: Just off State Highway 6, a couple of hundredmetres south of Punakaiki village.
3. Hike the Paparoa Track
One of the main reasons to hit Punakaiki is to tackle one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Paparoa Track. Walk or cycle this 2-3 day hiking trail taking in magnificent forest, mountain and limestone scenery. The walk has huts to stay in along the way which must be booked in advance. CheckThe Complete Guide to the Paparoa Trackfor more information.
Location: Access is via the Pororari River Track carpark on State Highway opposite Punakaiki village or from the Waikori Road carpark on State Highway 6, 3km south of Punakaiki village.
4. Take a scenic drive along the Coast Road
Punakaiki is located in the middle of the Coast Road, running along the coast between Charleston in the north and Runanga in the south. The road takes90 minutes to drive, but of course, we recommend taking your time, stopping by a few lookouts and small towns along the way and enjoying the drive.
Location: State Highway 6 between Charleston and Runanga
5. Hike in the PaparoaNational Park
We’ve already mentioned a few of the popular walks in Punakaiki and the Paparoa National Park, but there’s a lot more to discover on foot! Hike down the majestic Porarari River on a 1h30min return, 3-hour-loop or 5-hour hike. There’s also the multi-day Inland Pack Track or the shorter Ballroom Overhang walk. Find out more in our8 Best Walks in Punakaiki.
Location: All walksmentioned are within 10km of Punakaiki.
6. Kayak on the Porarari River
Discover the beauty of the Paparoa National Park and the Porarari River on a kayak tour in Punakaiki. Paddle up a river canyon with towering cliffs and luxuriantpalm tree groves.
Location: Punakaiki Canoes in Punakaiki village just next to the Porari River.
7. Horse trek along Punakaiki Beach
See the Pancake Rocks from a different perspectiveas you ride on horseback along Punakaiki Beach. After riding under the Pancake Rocks, cross a river to trek through the luxuriant rainforest and into the Paparoa National Park.
Location: Punakaiki Horse Treks, off State Highway 6 2km south of Punakaiki village.
8. Carve your own… something!
Yes, in the neighbouring settlements of Punakaiki, you can carve just about anything! Carve your own Maori bone pendant at the Skeleton Crew Carving Studio near Barrytown. Make your own glass beads at the Te Miko Gallery. Carve your own knife at Barrytown Knifemaking!
Location: Along State Highway 6, Te Miko is 2km north of Punakaiki. Barrytown is 15km south of Punakaiki.
9. Stroll along Punakaiki Beach
Finally, enjoy a bit of beachcombing along the stunning Punakaiki Beach. This beach is decorated in driftwood, as well as fascinating seabirds like gulls, terns and oystercatchers. For swimming, choose the Punakaiki River lagoon mouth (elsewhere is dangerous). Punakaiki Beach is also one of the stellar West Coast beaches to watch the sunset.
Location: Stretch south from the Pancake Rocks to the Punakaiki River mouth.