Overlooking the South Island’s remote West Coast, this friendly town is the ideal base for exploring the beaches, rivers and limestone formations of the area.
Conveniently located on State Highway 6, the only road traversing New Zealand’s South Island’s rugged west coast, the small town of Punakaiki is a popular base for those wanting to explore the nature splendour of the area. Experience warm South Island hospitality as you dine with locals in the town’s restaurants, make friends over a pint at the tavern or discover information about the nearby Paparoa National Park. Find tour operators to take you by canoe up the Pororari River, join resident astronomers to gaze at the night sky or watch as local artists share their skills in a craft workshop.
Punakaiki’s location on the South Island’s west coast means that it receives significant rainfall year-round. While you may need to bring a raincoat, it’s the wild weather that has shaped this part of the country and what continues to define its activities. Watch as crashing waves explode through naturally formed blowholes and explore the winding crevices of the famous Pancake Rocks. These fascinating limestone formations were formed over millennia and are the major attraction of the region.
When the sun is shining you’ll find the locals swimming at Rapahoe Beach, just a short drive from Punakaiki. If you want to investigate a little further, sign up for a canoe trip to venture along the Pororari River to the natural lagoons of Punakaiki’s hinterland. Visit the Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre to pick up maps and information about the national park on Punakaiki’s doorstep.
The town centre offers plenty of dining options, with friendly taverns serving counter meals by night and cafés offering coffee and light lunches during the day.
Punakaiki is located approximately 4 hours’ drive from Christchurch where you will find the nearest international airport or just 40 minutes from Greymouth. Make the town a stop on your scenic journey along the South Island’s west coast.