Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
‘Nature’s architecture’ is an apt description for the beautiful Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. They’re probably the most photographed rock forms in New Zealand. Punakaiki has some very colourful little characters and I’m not just talking about the ‘rallies’ on my mother’s side. I have the most precious memory of the cutest little Morepork I saw recently on the Inlet Pack Track, north of the Punakaiki Village. Such enormous eyes for so small a body. It was so motionless that for a moment, I wondered if it was the work of a talented Taxidermist. A very sick Taxidermist. As I passed beneath him (yes, I’m convinced it was a boy owl) his little head turned a complete revolution – yeah, it was a little creepy but such a thrill for this ‘city girl’ and I’ll never forget it. The Nature Photography society of New Zealand has produced this stunning photo of a Morepork (may have been my wee friend.)
Underwater Rafting near Punakaiki
Enough of the ‘fluffies’, here’s some straight talk. Punakaiki is not a drive-by with the kids sitting in the back seat of the car with their playstations! (yes, this does happen with some of our visitors, can you believe it!) and it’s definitely not a one-nighter. So here’s what you do. On the first day, meander through the area to explore. This is the home to the Paparoa National Park where to the right and left, are the Limestone Cliffs heaving with vegetation – and it’s an easy stroll for as long as you want. Try kayaking if you want something a bit more energetic. Now the second day (yes, I’m still here). Take a trip to Charleston, 30 minutes North of Punakaiki. There are three main guided Glowworm Cave tours in New Zealand: Waitomo, Te Anau and little ole Charleston. Underwater Rafting is a must-do in this country. You’ll be kitted out with wetsuits and helmets then you just lie back in the rubber tubes and allow yourself to float leisurely through a slow moving river guided only by the natural light of hundreds of glowworms.
Accommodation in the Punakaiki region
So where to stay? Punakaiki is not known for its fine dining, but for pure atmosphere you can’t beat the Punakaiki Taven. We prefer to stay at places that provide diinner on request. This comes in very handy when you’re tired after a day’s driving. The Punakaiki Resort sits in a great location looking down on an unobstructed view of the beach and we like the echo rooms. The resort also has a restaurant. it’s ok. On our most recent stay in Punakaiki, we chose a B & B experience at ‘Breakers’, a few kms away from the village. We loved the Alfresco options of the Driftwood Room, which was away from the main lodge and private – stunning views . Ok, a few couples occasionally walked by, but kept a respectable distance (most Kiwis are pretty unobtrusive and wouldn’t dream of overstepping certain boundaries, even if you looked like Brad Pitt and his missus.) And what the owners, Jan & Stephen don’t know about the area, isn’t worth knowing.
For our next stay and for something even more privately located, we’ll be staying at The Rocks Homestay. This three-bedroomed lodge is perfect if you want Nikau Palms and rainforest right up to your front door. In fact, Nikau Palms are everywhere in this area (just found that out today from the two-legged encyclopedia with whom I share my life). Owners, Eva and Roland are Swiss and multilingual. Roland was an accountant in another life. that is, until he found New Zealand and Photography. His photos are stunners. Eva is also an gifted artist and it seems these guys have got it all. They’re fabulous cooks and with prior notice, they’ll cook up a delicious Mediterranean style dinner and wouldn’t that be nice!