Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
The Pancake Rocks are a very popular tourist destination at Dolomite Point. The rocks are most spectacular in this particular area. They were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed. Mildly acidic rain, wind and seawater sculpted the bizarre shapes.
The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are just a 20 minute loop walk from carpark on the main highway at Punakaiki.
The Pancake Rocks are presently explorable by a number of walkways winding through the rock formations, parts of these wheelchair-accessible and others carved into stairways up and down the rock faces. State Highway 6, the only through road on the West Coast, passes through the town.
Crashing sea, wind and rain erode and dissolve the coastline. The rock stack currently sitting off shore, above, will eventually be reclaimed by the sea.
“The pancake rocks in Punakaiki are the most visited natural attraction on the West Coast with good reason. These ancient formations are a true wonder of nature – and they really do look like pancakes!”
What is a Blowhole?
A blowhole is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface, which can result in blasts of water from the top of the blowhole.
Along this walk, there are some impressive blowholes. These are best viewed at high tide, check HERE for the high tide times. We read that these blows are very impressed, but since we needed to drive a substantial distance before the sunset, we were not able to stay here until the evening. Being rather chilly – yes, in the middle of summer – we admired the pancake rocks and enjoyed the sheer magnitude of the caves, as they were.
The return track emerges quite suddenly onto the highway so make sure children are not running ahead. Keep to the formed path because venturing beyond safety barriers is not safe. A lifebelt near Sudden Sound Blowhole is a reminder that it’s very dangerous to stray from the track and to take special care of children.
View the natural limestone shapes, created by geographical processes over millions of years. Listen to the lap, slap and boom of the sea, wind and rain, sculpting the pancakes of Punakaiki. This is a wonderful little walk, and although there were more people here than on the Truman Track, it was still quiet.