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Punakaiki is the gateway to the dramatic limestone country of the Paparoa National Park. It lies halfway between Greymouth and Westport on one of the most spectacular coastal highways in New Zealand.
PUNAKAIKI PANCAKE ROCKS AND BLOWHOLES
The Pancake Rocks are heavily eroded limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago. The ‘pancake’-layering of the limestone was created from fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landing on the seabed about 2km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers. The seabed was raised above sea level by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations we see today. When conditions are right, heavy ocean swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge water spouts blast skywards through the blowholes in a truly spectacular sight.
The Punakaiki township is a great base to walk along the beach looking for greenstone; walk the numerous forest and mountain tracks into the Paparoa National Park. Picnic on the beach, surf, or explore the amazing limestone caves.
Paparoa National Park.
The park is 30,000 hectares of varied landscape from lush subtropical native rainforest and mountain tops, to expansive rugged beaches and coastline. The park was created in 1987, to protect a unique limestone environment from mining and forestry. Limestone underlies most of the park, and is responsible for the area’s impressive landforms sculptured mountain ridges, mysterious river canyons, delicate cave decorations and the pancake-like coastal formations. There are many walks through the park including the historic Inland Pack Track, formed originally by gold miners. Visitors can discover gorges, caves, waterfalls, subterranean rivers, swimming, and camping under a natural rock shelter - the Ballroom Overhang - is an unforgettable experience.
Things to do..
WHEN VISITING PUNAKAIKI...
Explore the beaches • Look for Greenstone • Check out the Limestone Caves • Visit the famous Pancake Rocks
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