Pancake Rocks Circuit, Punakaiki, Westland NZ

Pancake Rocks & blow holes are an interesting tourist attraction near the small village of Punakaiki that are accessed on a very short walk.

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki

A colleague suggested we visit Pancake Rocks near Punakaki on our drive down NZ’s West Coast. As a tourist attraction it is recommended, with a variety of interesting rock formations, often in layers, (hence the pancake reference), and also blow holes and bird nesting sites. The blow holes weren’t blowing on the day we did this walk. They kinda sucked 😉

As a walking experience it is more akin to strolling in a city park, being very short and on a paved track. This is just one to stretch the legs on the drive up or down the coast, or if you are staying in the area.

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki
An attractive river scene on the drive down NZ’s West Coast, a bit south of Punakaiki and Pancake Rocks as I remember.

There’s also a good visitor centre / DOC office at the start of the walk, one of the best we’ve been to in New Zealand. Track notes at the end. And I can recommend two excellent short walks a short drive to the north, the Truman Track, and a short section of the Pororari River Track.

Pancake Rocks Circuit: The Scenery

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki
There were terns nesting, or at least hanging out, in amongst the rocks.

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki
The most distinctive section of layered rocks.

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki
Looking up the coast.

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park, Punakaiki
A section of forest towards the end of the walk.


Track Notes

The track is paved the whole way, and involves just a few very short ups and downs, but is essentially flat. Protect your food from the seagulls as I saw one steal somebody’s camembert cheese! There’s more information on the DOC website and various other websites dealing with tourism in the area.

Map of short walks near Punakaiki
All three of these short walks near Punakaiki are on constructed and obvious tracks. The Truman Track and Pancake Rocks Circuit are very short. I don’t actually know how far we went on the Pororari River Track (which continues to be longer day walk and also a multi-day walk), but 30 minutes to an hour return should be enough time.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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