It has great coastal scenery and is best known for the Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes.
The long drive in (2-3 hr) from Nelson winds through the Buller Gorge before it nears Westport and is scenically interesting almost the whole way, but along narrow, winding, roads. The final 50 min drive south from Westport is along a truly stunning coast after you reach the sea.
- Intercity Coaches operate coaches from Nelson to Greymouth, which stop in Punakaiki once per day in each direction. Coaches often stop for a refreshment stop here, which allows a quick 15 minutes or so looking at the Pancake Rocks.
- East West Coaches run shuttle buses from Westport to Christchurch via Arthur's Pass and Greymouth which stop her once per day in each direction.
- 1 Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes Walk (Dolomite Point). The Pancake Rocks are picturesque limestone formations that look curiously like stony stacks of pancakes after being pounded by the Tasman Sea for tens of thousands of years. The blow holes funnel blasts water up to 15 m (50 ft) into the air as the waves crash into the caverns below the rocks. The best spouts are caught at high tides with westerly waves (usually signposted at the information centre) but a leisurely 20 min walk around the boardwalks is still great even without timing your visit. Much of the walk is wheelchair-accessible.
- 2 Punakaiki Cavern. always open. Small cave which can be explored - bring a torch. free.
- 1 Pororari River Track. A track follows the otherworldly Pororari River valley from just north of the pancake rocks. Go as far as you feel like or get to the intersection with the track to Punakaiki town - the whole circle down the two rivers and then over the coastal hill including the pancake rocks takes about 4 hours.
- Punakaiki Canoes, 4300 State Hwy 6, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Kayaking on the scenic and birdsong-filled Pororari River is beautiful in any weather. Wetsuits, booties, dry bag, and lifejackets supplied. Tours offered. Open depending on conditions - call ahead to check.
- 2 Nature's Tours, Punakaiki Canoes building (1 km north of Punakaiki Information Centre), ☏ . Specialised guided tours exploring the coastlines and forests of the Paparoa National Park. $45-400.
- 3 Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track. The Paparoa Track is a "Great Walk" for walkers and mountain bikers opening in December 2019. For walkers the track runs from Smoke-ho car park to Pororari River car park. The track is 55km and there are three huts available from pre-reserved accommodation. The Pike29 Memorial Track is a branch of the track which will open in December 2020, going to the site of the former Pike River Mine. The Pike River Mine was a coal mine which exploded in 2010, killing 29 miners.
- 4 Truman Track, 4294 Coast Road (Parking on east side of State Highway 6, track entrance on west). The start of the track is 3 km north of Punakaiki. The walk is an easy 1.4 km (30-minute) round-trip walk through subtropical forest to a spectacular coastline views. A stairway used to provide access to the beach, but this has been closed for safety reasons since 2019. No dogs.
- Punakaiki Crafts, State Highway 6, +64 3 731-1813. Co-op owned and featuring changing displays of greenstone, wood, glass, and other materials. Summer, 08:30-19:00; Winter, 09:00-17:00.
Eat and drink
- Punakaiki Cafe, State Highway 6, ☏ .
- 1 Punakaiki Tavern & Bistro, State Highway 6 and Owen Street, ☏ . Daily from 08:00.
- Rata Cafe, State Highway 6, ☏ . Summer, open 7 days; Winter, W-Su.. Views of the sea.
- Seascape, ☏ . Located on the beachfront with views of the Tasman Sea. Opening at 07:00 for breakfast and then staying open for lunch and dinner.
- Wild Coast Cafe, ☏ . Daily 08:00 to sunset.. Groceries and liquor also available.
- Pancake Rocks Cafe, ☏ .
- Havenz Punakaiki. Punakaiki Canoes Building (1km north of Punakaiki Info Centre), +64 3 731 1442. Luxury homes and holiday apartments, in the bush or on the beaches.
- 1 Hydrangea Cottages, ☏ , fax: . Five cottages set into the rainforest with stunning sea views. Studio and family suites available. $185-$295 per night for 2 people, more people extra.
- 2 Paparoa Park Motel, ☏ , toll-free: 0800 72 72 76. Five studios, 3 family units. $120-$150.
- 3 Punakaiki Beach Hostel, 4 Webb St, ☏ . Tent sites, NZ$14; 5+ bed dorm, NZ$19; 5 or less bed Share, NZ$21; Twin room, NZ$24; Double room, NZ$24; Single room, NZ$35. All prices per person and with BBH discount. If not a BBH member, add NZ$3.
- 4 Punakaiki Beachfront Motels, 56 Punakaiki Road, ☏ , email@example.com. Free WiFi, cooking facilities, dog friendly, beach access.
- 5 Punakaiki Beach Camp, 5 Owen St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Cabins and campsite.
- 6 Punakaiki Resort, ☏ , toll-free: 0800 786 2524. 63 room hotel with luxury eco units, deluxe rooms, and luxury standard rooms.
- Punakaiki Tavern Accommodation, State Highway 6 and Owen St, +64 3 731 1188. Nine ensuite studios.
- 7 Te Nikau Retreat (YHA), Hartmount Place, ☏ . A hostel just north of town.
- The Beach House, Mabel Street, ☏ . 4 bedroom self-catering house from $240.
- 8 The Rocks Homestay and Bed & Breakfast, ☏ . Hartmount Place. 3 ensuite rooms: two queen, one twin. NZ$110 - NZ$175 for double or single occupancy. Evening meals NZ$40 - NZ$50 with extra for wine.
- Wave Watchers Retreat, ☏ . Two bedroom home with kitchen and other features. Approx NZ$250 for first night and NZ$200 for each additional night for two people.
- Westport – to the north
- Greymouth – to the south
- Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier – tourist attractions further to the south
|Routes through Punakaiki|
|Nelson ← Murchison ←||N S||→ Greymouth|