Punakaiki Pancake Rocks …and Pancakes!

Blowhole at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in New Zealand

As it is Pancake Day in the UK today (also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras depending on where in the world you are) I thought I would I write about the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Punakaiki, New Zealand.

Punakaiki is a small town situated on the West Coast of the South Island and it is famous for its pancake rocks and blowholes. The pancake rocks are so called because they basically look like giant stacks of pancakes!

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island

Pancake rock formation in Punakaiki

The curious rocks are limestone formations that were formed 30 million years ago. Remnants of dead marine creatures and plants settled on the sea bed and solidified. A combination of water pressure and seismic activity, along with the elements, created what you see today.

The best time to visit the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes is at high tide when you can watch the sea churn up waves below that crash into the rocks and spout water upwards through the blow holes (which you can watch in my video at the bottom of this post).

Blowhole at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in New Zealand

The walk to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes is a pleasant 20 minute loop (although much longer if you linger to take photos and videos like we did) and much much more impressive to view in person than in a photograph. It’s also fun to pose next to the tall plants that look like giant blades of grass and pretend that you have been shrunk!

A girl is shrunk and finds herself the size of an insect amongst the grass

Of course, you can’t come all the way to Punakaiki and not indulge in some pancakes of the edible variety. Right opposite the entrance to the Pancake Rocks walk is the Pancake Rocks Cafe. We decided to go there for breakfast the following day, although the pancakes are available all day. There is alot more than just pancakes on the menu, but surprisingly only two types of pancakes – streaky bacon served with maple syrup and caramelised banana or berries and cream. Not that cheap but probably the best breakfast we ate in New Zealand!

Seagull wants some of my pancakes at the Pancake Rocks Cafe in Punakaiki

Berries and cream or bacon, banana and maple syrup pancakes?

Top tips for travelling to Punakaiki

  • Bring supplies. You are limited for food options in Punakaiki and if you are planning on cooking at your hostel, the nearest supermarket is in Westport or Greymouth, both of which are around a 40 minute drive.
  • Similarly, if you are driving, make sure you have enough petrol because again, the nearest petrol stations are in Westport or Greymouth.
  • Check the tides times, the blowholes are much more dramatic and exciting at high tide. You can find out more on the Met Service website.

Here’s a short video of the Pancake rocks and blowholes – enjoy!

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  1. The rock formations are amazing – I would love to see these close up. Glad you enjoyed your pancakes – it seems very appropriate, doesn’t it?

    Sally @ Life Loving

    1. I would have been disappointed if there hadn’t been any edible pancakes ;-9

  2. I loved visiting Punakaiki – looks like you got better weather than us, we had rain the entire time we were there, but loved it. Missed out on the pancakes though, darn it!

    1. We were incredibly lucky as we had lovely weather the day we saw the rocks. The next day when we went for pancakes it was pouring down!

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