Punakaiki - The Great Coast Road Punakaiki - The Great Coast Road

Punakaiki

The Great Coast Road

The Great Coast Road is one of the Top 10 Coastal Drives in the world according to Lonely Planet and we just use it for our everyday travel!

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One of top 10 coastal drives in the world

The Great Coast Road is one of the Top 10 Coastal Drives in the world according to Lonely Planet and we just use it for our everyday travel!

It takes you alongside the ancient limestone cliffs of Paparoa National Park and is home to the world's smallest penguin.

Along the way, experience underground rafting at Charleston, caving at Fox River and you won't want to miss the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki.

The Great Coast Road (which takes 90 minutes at a full speed, we recommend you slow down and enjoy it) traverses Charleston, Fox River, Punakaiki, Barrytown, Rapahoe and Runanga on its way from Westport to Greymouth.

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Getting to Punakaiki

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Places to visit on The Great Coast Road


Between Charleston and Fox River

Charleston is not far south of Westport and once boasted a gold mining population of 5,000 and more pubs than permanent houses.

The village is now better known for its extensive limestone caves and the Nile River.

The sheltered beach at Constant Bay is a great place to picnic with the kids and the walks to Constant and Joyce Bays give great coastal views.

For the adventurous, there are guided caving tours from eco-tours into a glowworm cave to full on adventure caving.

The Tiropahi Tram mountain bike track is a great mixed grade ride and the Tiropahi Walk visits an old bush tramway. Charleston is also a place for those who like rock climbing with routes bolted on the cliff faces.

To Learn about Charleston history, visit the Mitchells Gully Gold Mine or the two pioneer cemeteries. Or you can read more about the many historical sites on the West Coast.

Fox River is north of Punakaiki and is the start of a very interesting track to the Fox River Cave and the impressive Ballroom Overhang. Take a torch for the caves.

Two historic places of interest at Fox River are the Fox River Bridge and Te Ana o Matuka, a sea cave occupied by early travelers.


Punakaiki

Punakaiki is a small village located near Paparoa National Park and home to the world famous Pancake Rocks. The 20 minute loop track to Dolomite Point gives the best views of the 30 million year old limestone formations.

There are many artists that have been attracted to the wild coast. There is a cafe, pub, dining and accommodation in Punakaiki.

Just to the north of Punakaiki it is worth stopping to do the easy (30 minutes return) Truman Track that meanders through native bush to the beach giving you a close up view of limestone rock formations.

The impressive blowholes are at their best at high tide – ask at the Paparoa National Park i-SITE about the tide times.

There are several other walks in the Punakaiki area and Paparoa National Park. The Pororari River Walk can take from 15 minutes to 2-hours depending on how far you go.

It follows a spectacular limestone gorge or you can continue along a portion of the Inland Pack Track to do a 3-hour loop back to Punakaiki.


Barrytown

Barrytown was once a centre for flax harvesting but its claim to fame these days is knife-making.

Over a day you can make your own hand forged knife from red-hot steel and native timber – no experience needed!

This unique activity gets rave reviews so it is not-to-miss!

Rapahoe is a small coastal settlement on the edge of a truly picturesque beach. You can access one end of thePoint Elizabeth Walk from here.

The 2-hour walk has great views of the coastline and a large section follows an old goldmining water-race.

For other scenic walks see the best walking and hiking tracks on the West Coast.


Runanga

Runanga is where the roots of West Coast coal mining run deep.

The Coal Creek Falls Walkway leads to a gorgeous fan waterfall with a great pool.

Or if you have a taste for mud, think about stopping for Off road biking, go karting or a Haglund ride.

The Miners Hall here is a well known historic place in Runanga and worth a stop.

See, do & stay

Punakaiki
See & Do
The Nile River Rainforest Train The Nile River Rainforest Train

The Nile River Rainforest Train Is a short interpretative train journey through primeval rain forest whilst seated in small open sided carriages.

$20-$25
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Punakaiki
Accommodation
Wave Watchers Retreat Wave Watchers Retreat

Wave Watchers Retreat is located in the Punakaiki Village on a private beachfront site in the Paparoa National Park.

$295 - $495
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Punakaiki
Accommodation
Punakaiki Tavern Accommodation and Bistro Punakaiki Tavern Accommodation and Bistro

A warm relaxing atmosphere with quality friendly service. Tavern, accommodation and bistro in Punakaiki, West Coast, New Zealand.

$140 - $190
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Punakaiki
Accommodation
Punakaiki Beach Hostel Punakaiki Beach Hostel

Punakaiki Beach Hostel is the perfect place to explore the West Coast's famous Pancake Rocks.

$18 - $115
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Punakaiki
See & Do
Underworld Rafting Underworld Adventures

Underworld Rafting: Is a “Cave Rafting Adventure” in the Paparoa National Park. Located in Charleston.

$185
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Punakaiki
Accommodation
Charleston Lodge Charleston Lodge

Situated in the charming town of Charleston on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the Charleston Motel is your first choice for affordable quality accommodation.

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