Situated in the outstanding Paparoa National Park, on the West Coast of the South Island, the Pororari River drains the Paparoa mountains. It enters the Tasman sea a few minutes walk from the famous pancake rocks and blow holes at Punakaiki. (47 Km north of Greymouth, 55 south of Westport) There is a beautiful riverside walk that takes you beneath shear limestone cliffs, through lush native bush. The karst (limestone) landscape is littered with caves and sink holes, making it advisable to stay on the track unless you want to disappear underground forever (maybe you want to visit Golam?). It is possible to hire kayaks at the river mouth which makes for a fun day paddling on the river and down into the lagoon.
The Punakaiki Blow holes and Pancake Rocks, so named because they look like pancakes piled on top of each other, are well worth the .30 mins it takes to wander round the easy, sealed pathway. The best time to visit is at high tide, (tide times are displayed across the road in the Department of Conservations visitors centre) and unfortunately the best weather to see the blow holes really working is generally during a storm!
Trumans track, a few km’s north of the Punakaiki township is well worth investing a bit of time in exploring. Whilst it only takes .30 minutes for the return trip, its worth taking your time and exploring the beach as well. The track transects the bush, starting at the road in dense Podocarp forest, then as it decends, the bush slowly thins as you near the coast. Looking south you see past the Pororari river mouth to Dolomite point (pancake rocks). North across the sweeping bay with crashing rollers pounding the steep beach, backed by high limestone cliffs. Explore northwards across the beach to the large caves at the northern end. This is not a swimming beach, so don’t give in to temptation …. it might well be your last dip!!!!!
There is a range of accommodation in and around Punakaiki from the relatively new Punakaiki Rocks (has attached restaurant) to the Punakaiki Pub which has small, relatively inexpensive motel units out the back. There is also a DOC campground and loads of B&B’s and holiday home rentals.