The 'Pancake Rocks and Blowhole' is a very popular tourist spot just south of the township of Punakaiki. The 'Pancake Rocks' isan area of limestone which has been eroded by the sea resulting in what seems to be pancake layering of the rock. At high tide a number of blowholes display their waterspouts. There are a selection of walkways throught the formations some of which are wheelchair friendly.
Unfortunatley the tide was out when I visited so no Blowhole
The most unusual feature along the ruggedly beautiful West Coast is the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaki. Peculiar geological forces have shaped the rocks into strange shapes that account for their name.
If the waves are especially high, they can cause sea water to blow through these rock formations with great force, hence the nickname "blowholes."
We visited Paparoa National Park while in Punakaiki. It consisted of "pancake rocks" which were, of course, flat limestone rocks stacked on top of each other that looked like pancakes. There were also blowholes where the ocean would come through and spew water high into the air. It was worth the stop.
The main reason for a trip to Punakaiki is to come see the Pancake Rocks in most people's case. This is a beautiful and easy walk, with ample parking, and some truly amazing scenery. The entire walk took us less than an hour, and the tour books say it is about a 20 minute walk.
To begin this walk, show up at the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre at Punakaiki, where you will find a spot to park, or if you are on a larger tour, this will be your start and end point. Walk across the pathway to the nice stone entrance with the yellow lettering.
On the walk, you will see signs that educate you on the natural flora for this region. You should be able to start hearing the water crashing against the rocks, so continue to follow the path to see the Blowholes. The volume of water coming through will depend on the time of the year, and also when you arrive in the day. Make sure to go during a higher tide time period for better effect.
This walk has a very low technical rating, so you should feel confident that if you can stay on your feet for an hour, then you will be fine to take this walk.
We took a detour from our original plan of heading towards the southwest direction of Hokitika. Instead, at the T-junction of State Highway 73 and 6, we turned right and headed northeast past Greymouth to Punakaiki.
I've read so much about the place that I needed to make that detour even though we were running quite late and that the sun was about to set in two hours, and truly, there was no regrets.
Learnt two things.
1. The rock formation is called Pancake rocks because it looked layered. If this rock formation was found in Singapore, we would have called it "Kueh Lapis rock" - a type of layered cake which will give the formation a more apt name.
2. It's called blowhole because when the waves hit the rocks, vertical stream of water shoots upwards through the cavaties within the rocks.
The Punakaiki (Pancake) Rocks are located halfway between Westport & Greymouth, and are among the West Coast 's most famous sight. These thin horizontal layers of limestone rocks of about 2-4cm thick, formed over millions of years, have formed what look like stacks of pancakes. These fascinating ‘pancake’ rocks have been eroded by the sea, which rushes up through blowholes in a spectacular and noisy burst of white foam. The effect is best during high tide or stormy weather.
The coastal promontory of the Pancake Rocks is looped by an easy walking track (about 20 minutes). Do allow for about an hour here - 20 minutes walks + photo time!! Bring along a jacket too...just in case.
These limestone rocks began forming 30 million years ago as tiny fragments of dead marine creatures such as bivalve shellfish and other molluscs, creating an even layer of sediment on the seabed. Earthquake action lifted the layers to the surface. The sea, wind and rain have since sculpted the unusual rock formations. As heavy swells thunder into caverns beneath the rocks, huge water spouts blast skywards through the blowholes.
The prime reason to visit this little dot in the map, is to see the layers of rocks unique to this part of the world - no-one quite knows how the rocks are formed.
There are also blowholes to be seen with the sea spraying through the eroded gaps - make sure you turn up at high tide or, like us, you will miss the whole charade.
There is also a cavern to have a look out a few minutes north of the rocks - bring a torch, if you do - could you let me know what is down there? I am still in the dark!
The vegetation is so abundant, it's well worth having a walk around rather than just - see the rocks and back in the car.
The photo shows two smaller trees using the bigger tree as an anchor - wrapping the roots around the tree to cling on.
Punakaiki has famous pancake rocks and blowholes.
The are a tourist attraction and well worth a visit