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Punakaiki

Home of the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. It is also the centre for Paparoa National Park, which features 30,000 hectares of varied landscape from mountain tops, rainforest and rugged beaches at sea level. It's easy to see why Punakaiki is one of the major tourist attractions on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. There are plenty of hikes in this area, as well as surfing spots and limestone caves to explore.

Pancake Rocks and the Blowholes

The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks are remarkable pieces of natural sculpture made of layered limestone columns carved by the sea. They are best seen after dramatic westerly storms when the sun is reasserting itself in the face of fantastic cloud formations on the horizon. If you time it right, at high tide with a heavy swell, sea water is forced up through the blowholes for a demonstration of the power of the sea.

The History of Punakaiki

Maori travellers knew it as a great place to pamper the puku, the tummy. Punakaiki literally means "a spring of food". Later came gold seekers, headed by the Sams Party ("Black Sam, White Sam, French Sam and another Sam"!) The boomtown of Brighton, complete with 53 pubs, flourished and vanished, and then there was the "Tin Man" - a real mystery of history.

Check out Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks on the following New Zealand tours:

Rimu14 day South Island adventure trip
Winter Rimu14 day South Island adventure trip
Kiwi14 day South Island adventure trip
Kea Family13 day South Island family trip
Manuka14 day South Island hiking trip

Trip Reviews

  •   4.68 out of 5 (from 244 reviews)

    New Zealand and Kiwis are the Best!

    It would be difficult to overstate how impressed I was with our Active Adventure tour. Mel and Claire were absolutely incredible!! Steve was great too, but he was only with us for the hike up and back from the Aspiring Hut. Plus, he was weighed down by a rock he so generously carried up the hill for Mel.
    Anyway, Mel and Claire made Active Adventures (and New Zealand) look so good! They were EVERYTHING I could hope for: friendly, funny, knowledgeable, professional, hard-working, kind, easy-going, energetic, .... Thank you for one of the best 2-week periods of my entire life!
    Mike Schimpf Review Image
    – California, United States
    Kea, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Rimu - NZ South Island

    Our Rimu trip with Ken and Elder was truly a trip of a lifetime. The two of them were the perfect pair to lead our adventure -kind, warm, funny, and incredibly encouraging (for those of us who weren't quite sure we'd make it up the mountain!) My husband and I were fortunate to have both of our adult boys join us which made for a very memorable experience. New Zealand's South Island offered some of the most breathtaking landscapes we had ever seen. The hiking, kayaking, and biking was challenging and exhilarating. It was hard to say goodbye to the group who became like family. We have stayed in touch with some, and look forward to our next trip with Active.
    Gigi Altaras Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, November 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Amazing Tui Trip

    We had an amazing time in New Zealand and enjoyed our Tui trip of the South Island! It was an excellent way to travel and see so many different places in one trip. Our guides, Eve and Katie, were great! They were extremely knowledgeable and very attentive to our needs, and always made sure we were well fed. We would definitely recommend the Tui trip to anyone traveling to New Zealand!
    Dana Pasini Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Tui, November 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    One of the best trips I've been on.

    Ken and Elder were such great guides and the passion they displayed was fantastic.
    Justen Altaras Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, February 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Rimu nov. 27 - dec. 10 '17

    This trip was unsurpassed by any other I've ever been a part of! Ben and Emma seemed like family to us with their wonderful cooking, extreme knowledge of the island and extraordinary skill as guides made every step of every hike better than the last!
    I have not stopped singing the praises of Active Adventures to my like minded friends since returning!
    You really 'knocked this one out of the park'!
    Bob Anderson Review Image
    – Georgia, United States
    Rimu, January 2018

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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