A couple of weeks ago I took a road trip to the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, spending time jade carving in Hokitika and ice climbing at Franz Josef. But no trip to the ‘coast’ would be complete without a stop at the Punakaiki Rocks & Blowholes.
Located at Dolomite Point on State Highway 6 between Greymouth and Westport, these limestone formations have been around for millions of years. Worn down and sculptured over the years by the sea and weather, the Punakaiki Rocks have taken on a very distinctive ‘pancake-like’ appearance.
The Rocks are a popular draw card for tourists as they make their way up or down the coast. Most only stay long enough to take the 20 minute Dolomite Walkway through native bush to the Punakaiki Rocks. Many don’t realize that timing is everything when visiting the rocks. It’s impressive ‘blowhole’ show – when the sea water surges into the numerous caverns and then spouts up to 30 feet in the air – only happens during high tide.
But even with my best laid plans, I missed the blowhole display. I arrived in Punakaiki mid afternoon, checked into the Punakaiki Rocks Resort, and headed to the Rocks. About 10 minutes early, I planned on walking in and enjoying the scenery until the show began. But nature had a different idea. Suddenly, it was all rain and wind and by the time I reached the first lookout, I was drenched.
So I hightailed it back to the road and took refugee in an expresso at the Wild Coast Cafe , waiting for the rain to stop. But this is the coast and when it rains, it rains. It often doesn’t stop. I decided to save the Punakaiki Rocks for another day.