PunakaikiNew Zealand

Image for Pancake Rocks featuring rugged coastline

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.

Top hotels in Punakaiki

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Punakaiki Resort
Punakaiki Resort
4 out of 5
State Highway 6, Punakaiki
NZ$299
per night
Feb 29 - Mar 1

Situated near the beach, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paparoa National Park and Pancake Rocks. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes ...

4.1/5Very Good! (455 reviews)

"On the Tasman Sea. The views were beautiful. Close to Pancake rocks"…"

Reviewed on 2 Feb. 2020

Punakaiki Resort
Te Nikau Retreat
Te Nikau Retreat
2 out of 5
19 Hartmount Place, Punakaiki
NZ$80
per night
Mar 1 - Mar 2

Offering direct access to the beach, this Punakaiki hostel is in a national park and within a 5-minute walk of Paparoa National Park and Truman Track. Punakaiki ...

4.2/5Excellent! (123 reviews)

"Very clean, quiet, kitchen had good equipment. Loved how close it was to the gorgeous beach"…"

Reviewed on 9 Feb. 2020

Te Nikau Retreat
Punakaiki Beachfront Motels
Punakaiki Beachfront Motels
3 out of 5
Mabel St (CMB 66), Punakaiki
NZ$180
per night
Feb 28 - Feb 29

Situated near the beach, this cabin is within a 10-minute walk of Punakaiki Beach and Pororari River Track. Pancake Rocks and Truman Track are also within 1 ...

4.2/5Excellent! (122 reviews)

"Fab location and very quiet with private access to beach and nearby to the local geological attractions"…"

Reviewed on 13 Feb. 2020

Punakaiki Beachfront Motels

Popular activities in Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks
Image for Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

5/5(108 reviews)

Drive along the Great Coast Road to reach these unusual rock formations, the product of 30 million years of natural moulding.

Rapahoe Beach
Image for Rapahoe Beach

Rapahoe Beach

4.5/5(23 reviews)

A small cluster of houses and some oceanfront accommodation mark one of the Great Coast Road’s sleepy enclaves, an ideal place to put your feet up.

Top activities in Punakaiki

2-Day West Coast Punakaiki Tour via the TranzAlpine Train
Image for 2-Day West Coast Punakaiki Tour via the TranzAlpine Train

2-Day West Coast Punakaiki Tour via the TranzAlpine Train

80% of travellers recommend
NZ$845
Per adult
Glow-worm Cave Tour Greymouth
Image for Glow-worm Cave Tour Greymouth

Glow-worm Cave Tour Greymouth

NZ$125
Per adult
Underworld Rafting in Charleston
Image for Underworld Rafting in Charleston

Underworld Rafting in Charleston

NZ$185
Per adult
Monteith's Brewery Guided Tour
Image for Monteith's Brewery Guided Tour

Monteith's Brewery Guided Tour

NZ$25
Per adult
Rainforest Off-Road Buggy Adventure
Image for Rainforest Off-Road Buggy Adventure

Rainforest Off-Road Buggy Adventure

100% of travellers recommend
NZ$86
Per adult
Rainforest Off-Roading Quad Bike Adventure
Image for Rainforest Off-Roading Quad Bike Adventure

Rainforest Off-Roading Quad Bike Adventure

NZ$125
Per adult

Reviews of Punakaiki

4.4

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
9
5 - Excellent 45%
4 - Good
9
4 - Good 45%
3 - Okay
2
3 - Okay 10%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jan 1, 2020

Coming back!

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Oct 7, 2019

Great dinner and musical evening at the cafe opposite to the pancake rocks entrance. Fab coastal scenery also at end of Truman walk.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Oct 7, 2019

Pancake rocks is nearby

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Apr 28, 2019

Locals are very friendly. Good choice of food outlets for a small village

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Apr 9, 2019

a must-visit place on the west coast and stay a few days to enjoy the walks & beaches

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Mar 27, 2019

The rock formations are of outstanding natural beauty. The DIC displays are very informative. Two of our group enjoyed a 10km run around the tracks.