Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

Punakaiki is famous for the geology and natural limestone formations, the most well-known and visited being the ‘Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes’ at Dolomite Point, in the South Island of New Zealand.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Blowhole at High Tide with a Rainbow Across the Blowhole
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Blowhole at high tide with a Rainbow across the blowhole caused by the water spray. South Island West Coast, Paparoa National Park New Zealand

Along with the powerful blowholes and surge pools, these rocks that look like stacked pancakes have made Dolomite Point at Punakaiki one of the big attractions and places to go on the West Coast of New Zealand.

Pancake Rocks Stack and Native Flora at Dolomite Point, Punakaiki
Pancake Rocks stack with native plants growing on it at Dolomite Point, Punakaiki, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

If you are on a tour of the South Island this could be one of the places you have heard is worth seeing on your way past.

The whole area is a bit like a prehistoric Jurassic Park, rugged and awe inspiring to see and witness the power of the sea and how it changes the form of land over millions of years.

Visiting Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Stacks of Limestone Pancake Rocks with Native New Zealand Flora
Stacks of Limestone Pancake Rocks with Native New Zealand flora growing on them at Dolomite Point, Punakaiki, in the Paparoa National Park, New Zealand

Car Parks and Picnic Area

There are spaces to park on the side of the road along with two large car parks and a picnic area.

Café and Shop

Two cafes are available and a shop.


You will find toilets available on the same side of the road as the car park and toilets, right next to the Visitor Centre.


There is a Visitor Centre where you can get find out about the Pancake Rocks and blowholes along with information about Punakaiki and the wider area of Paparoa National Park and the West Coast region. Pancake Rocks are the main attraction here but they are by no means the only place to visit around Punakaiki.

Walking to the Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks walk - Condition of the walking track and the environment. What you can expect to see such as blowholes, native plants, wildlife and birds.

Best Time to Visit Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks high tide times are the best time to visit Punakaiki.

The best time to visit Punakaiki to do the short walk to the rocks and blowholes is during high tide if you want to see the blowholes at their best. There are plenty of other things to do in Punakaiki and in the Paparoa National Park area, so don’t restrict your visit to just the walk to the rocks.

Tidal Surge Hole at Dolomite Point Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki
Tidal surge hole at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Dolomite Point on the Paparoa National Park coast, New Zealand

Pancake Rocks Facts?

Information Board - Nature’s Secret Pancake Recipe

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Stylobedding Layered Limestones Geology in New Zealand

"While the processes which form the limestone are well understood, the reasons why some limestones are layered still have geologists guessing.

Formerly it was believed that sea currents had shuffled material into alternate layers of hard limestone and soft mudstone during the deposition phase.

Now it is generally agree that the layers are the result of a secondary process called “stylobedding” – but some details remain a mystery.


After being buried and compacted, grains of shell and skeleton were put under such immense pressure that they passed into solution. For reasons still unclear, some minerals merged to form thin seams of mudstone between layers of limestone.

The forces of sea and weather during the past 100,000 years have eroded the mudstone more than the limestone, enhancing the ‘pancake’ effect."

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Map

Punakaiki can be found on the edge of the Paparoa National Park on the South Island West Coast highway SH6 between the towns of Greymouth, at 44km distance, and Westport at 57km distance.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Walk - Paparoa National Park - West Coast Region - All National Parks