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PunakaikiNew Zealand

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
The price is NZ$156 per night

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! (474 reviews)

"Ideally located to visit pancake rocks and blowholes, as well as access to a beautiful beach. Incredible views, especially at sunset. Staff were very professional and pleasant. Restaurant has great food. Rooms are spacious and comfortable but are in need of some minor maintenance (e.g., locks on ..."…"

Reviewed on 24 Mar. 2020

Punakaiki Resort
Te Nikau Retreat
Te Nikau Retreat
2 out of 5
19 Hartmount Place, Punakaiki
The price is NZ$85 per night

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 ...

4.2/5Very Good! (130 reviews)
Unique

"Very unique place in the jungle."…"

Reviewed on 12 Mar. 2020

Te Nikau Retreat
Punakaiki Beach Camp
Punakaiki Beach Camp
2 out of 5
5 Owen Street, Punakaiki
The price is NZ$110 per night

Situated on the beach, this campsite is steps away from Punakaiki Beach and Paparoa National Park. Pororari River Track and Pancake Rocks are also within 1 mile ...

Punakaiki Beach Camp

Popular places to visit in Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks
Image for Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

4.5/5(122 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(24 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

NZ$845
Per adult
80% of travellers recommend
Underworld Rafting in Charleston
Image for Underworld Rafting in Charleston

Underworld Rafting in Charleston

NZ$185
Per adult
100% of travellers recommend
Rainforest Off-Roading Quad Bike Adventure
Image for Rainforest Off-Roading Quad Bike Adventure

Rainforest Off-Roading Quad Bike Adventure

NZ$125
Per adult
Glow-worm Cave Tour Greymouth
Image for Glow-worm Cave Tour Greymouth

Glow-worm Cave Tour Greymouth

NZ$125
Per adult
TransAlpine Lord of The Rings Private full day tour x ChCh
Image for TransAlpine Lord of The Rings Private full day tour x ChCh

TransAlpine Lord of The Rings Private full day tour x ChCh

NZ$350
Per adult
Skip the Line: Shantytown Heritage Park Experience Ticket
Image for Skip the Line: Shantytown Heritage Park Experience Ticket

Skip the Line: Shantytown Heritage Park Experience Ticket

NZ$36
Per adult

Reviews of Punakaiki

4.4

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
10
5 - Excellent 47.61904761904762%
4 - Good
9
4 - Good 42.857142857142854%
3 - Okay
2
3 - Okay 9.523809523809524%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

1 Jan. 2020

Coming back!

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

7 Oct. 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

7 Oct. 2019

Pancake rocks is nearby

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

28 Apr. 2019

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

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

9 Apr. 2019

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

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

27 Mar. 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.

Cities near Punakaiki

Carlyn Ennis on trover

Paparoa National Park

Punakaiki showing general coastal views and a sunset

Greymouth