Particularly renowned for one-of-its-kind Pancake Rocks and coastal Punakaiki community, Paporao National Park is located on the glorious West Coast of South Island in New Zealand. Nestled in coastal forest, colorful canyons, glowing caves, and underground streams, this park is a highly rated destination for travelers. Limetone precipices towering along the shores of Tasmanian Sea and blowholes near Dolomite Point are the striking features of this park.
Established in November 1987, Paparoa National Park is spread over an area of 300 sq. km. During the gold rush of 1860s, the government bought nearly all the West Coast land from the native Māori chiefs for the purpose of gold mining.
Activities in Paparoa National Park
Kayaking – Set your kayak on sail on the Pororari River flowing through Paparoa National Park and enjoy the majestic beauty that lies within impressive river canyons and delicate cave patterns.
Watching Blowholes – During high tide, the three blowholes near Punakaiki are the must-see attractions in New Zealand.
Caving & Hiking – Travelers can look forward to caving and hiking in the Inland Park Track. Pororari River Track and Fox River Caves Track, and Bullock Creek Track are also short tracks worth exploring.
Birdwatching – Rich in vegetation, the rainforest sustains prolific wildlife that includes endemic birds: Spotted Kiwi, Kaka, Kereru, and Weka. Large Rata trees and Nikau palm trees emerging above the forest canopy give a tropical feeling to the Paparoa National Park.
Exploring Marine life – Leopard Seals, Hector’s Dolphins and Killer Whales can be spotted from the shores as well.
Horse-riding & Other Activities – Fishing, surfing, swimming, and paddle boarding, are some of the popular activities that visitors can try out. Horse-riding along the shoreline offers spectacular views from various sunset points.
Pororari River, Fox River Lagoon, The Dolomite Point, Lake Brunner, Nelson Lakes National Park, Mount Uriah, Kahurangi National Park, and Victoria Forest Park.
Where is Paparoa National Park ?
The Paparoa National Park is situated near a small village of Punakaiki on the State Highway 6. It is located midway between Westport and Greymouth.
Location map of Paparoa National Park
How to Reach?
By Air – The nearest airport to the National Park is in Westport, which is about 55 km from here. Greymouth Airport, Christchurch International Airport, and Nelson Airport are the other gateways to this Park.
By Road – One can easily access the National Park from Highway 6 that connects it with nearby towns: Westport and Greymouth. Intercity buses are available at regular intervals.
Punakaiki Resort, Hydrangea Cottages, and Beach Highway are recommended for a luxurious stay. For low-end accommodations, Punakaiki Beach Hostels, Punakaiki Tavern, The Rocks Homestay, and Te Nikau Retreat are the best options.
Within a walking distance from the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, the Wild Coast Cafe, Pancake Rocks Cafe, and Punakaiki Tavern offer full range of meals and drinks.
Best time to visit
The climate of West Coast in New Zealand is mild and the peak season for visiting the National Park is from November to March.
Things to Remember
- I-SITE Visit Centre provides all the details related to walks, maps, weather, and services offered.
- Visiting hours: November to March – 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., April to October – 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Nearest gas stations are in Westport or Greymouth, so keep enough fuel in your vehicle when visiting the Paparoa National Park.
- During hiking tours, don’t stray from the walking paths as there are sinkholes.
- Learn about the art, culture, and history of local Punakaiki people.
- Do not cross barriers near blowholes and make sure children are not running around.
- Please do not climb or surf near the steep edges of limestone rocks.
Facts about Paparoa National Park
- The Pancake Rocks of the Paparoa National Park are believed to be over 30 million years old.
- The ice-capped Paparoa Mountain Range, which appears as a massive backdrop, is made of ancient granite.
- The entire landscape of the Park is protected and governed by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.
- The wonderful Ballroom Overhang is the place to find the finest limestone features of the Park.
- There is a colony of Westland Petrel seabird south of the Punakaiki River in the Park. It is the only known breeding place for this bird in the world.
- Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
- Abel Tasman National Park
- Nelson Lakes National Park
- Mount Aspiring National Park
- Fiordland National Park
- Egmont National Park
- Tongariro National Park