437 Rankers Reviews
Imagine a pile of pancakes piled up on top of eachother, then turned to stone. Place the formation in the path of persistent swells on a wild coastline and leave for millennia. The result is one of the most bizarre places in NZ. Impressive always, but especially so when a big tide is running and the waves are thundering into the blowholes.
The blowholes are most impressive at high tide with a big swell. For that National Geographic shot, make sure you are here for a West Coast sunset and an exploding blowhole.
Well signposted and unmissable in Punakaiki.
Several parking areas are signposted. Campervans make sure you use the one to the south, otherwise the place ends up like Calcutta central station at rush hour.
Be careful crossing the road. A hotspot for oblivious drivers.
The sealed track passes several lookouts, which become ever-more impressive. Admire the handy-work of the track builders on the bridges and platforms, which give the best vantage over the blowholes. Some are given names like the Chimney Pot, Surge Pool and Putai.
The angular limestone blocks have been placed into dry stone walls alongside the track and steps weave a sinuous path through the convoluted landscape/seascape. Wheelchair access ends at the steps.
As the track weaves around, more viewpoints of the bizarre formations open up until you rejoin the tar seal through the flax and nikau back to the road.
Pancake Rocks are still contentious among geomorphologists. No single theory is agreed upon for their formation.
The most likely scenario starts around 30 million years ago when the base rocks were laid down in shallow warm seas. Inter-bedded layers of calcareous marine creatures and softer mud and sand layers were built up, compressed and cooked. The fancy term is ‘stylobedding’ Later tectonic uplift brought these lasagne-like layers to the surface.
Wind, rain, salt and wave then combined in a weathering and erosion frenzy to preferentially erode the weaker mud and sand layers, leaving the more resistant limestone layers intact. Given the exposed nature of this coastline and prevalence of westerly winds and swells, the patterns of nature now etched onto the rock have created such a sight that they are on the must-do list of New Zealand visitors.
When arches collapse, they form blow holes and surge pools, exploited by the waves and constantly enlarged and re-modelled. Dolomite Point is one of the rawest places you can easily get to in NZ.
When the BBC filmed ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’, they chose this location for one of the habitats.
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Punakaiki
Showing 13 reviews of 399.
Pretty amazing formations and really interesting information on theories along the short walk. Apparently best to go during high tide but not possible for us.
Also you can see seals further back down the coast at the seal colony which was really cool.
17Oct18. What is there to say that has not already been said. Came here in 2006 and 2014 and will do again.
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Not to be missed. Hardly anyone there, arrived on high tide. What an experience. Great facilities provided by DOC.
The walk is easy, with good viewpoints over fantastic geology. We shared the experience with a crowd of people with differing ideas about personal space and acceptable behaviour. Go early morning to avoid the tourist hordes and both the walk and your photos will rate 9-10/10. It's still worth a brief stop even when it is crowded.
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Easy walk. It did not disappoint at all! We even saw the blowholes!
Good amenities to see these wonders of nature. Easy to do with young children.
Very nice view and lots of spraying water!
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Romy de Boer
Make sure you stop here. Although there were several tours and busses, do not let that stop you. Free/amazing rock formations, great walkway.
Surprising view, impressive, a lot of people.
The way to the Pancake Rocks was very beautiful. There are lots of rocks to see and they are all different. It is a short walk, about 20 minutes with many lookouts.
Very impressive, very beautiful.
Very well maintained, good views of the rocks, nice and clear information about the creation of the rocks and the wildlife there.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍