With so many amazing things to do in every corner of New Zealand and new experiences popping up all the time, it’s pretty hard to capture everything in one list!
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If someone told you to check out the 'pancake rocks', what would you expect? A few flat stones heaped side-by-side perhaps?
Well, you'll certainly see flat rocks at Punakaiki on the West Coast of the South Island. But these 30-million-year-old limestone formations are nothing to be scoffed at. They're huge lording cliffs of rock, which really do look like a sky-high layer of elephant-grey pancakes stacked one on top of the other.
The pathway to check out this stony phenomenon is a well-maintained walk over boardwalks and stone steps, which will lead you to the best spots to check out the huge water spouts that blast skywards through blowholes.
Punakaiki is also the gateway to Paparoa National Park, a 30,000-hectare landscape of native rainforest, mountain ranges and rugged coastal beaches. There are many walks available in this facility — from a 10-minute walk along the beach, to an overnight stay within the heart of the parkland.
You'll find plenty of information about these options - and other activities such as canoeing, horse treks, caving, guided tours and art trails - at the Department of Conservation visitor centre located in the Punakaiki Township.
Ample accommodation nearby including upmarket hotel apartments, boutique B&Bs, self-catering motel units, a campervan and camping ground, and backpacker accommodation.