The best time to see the Pancake Rocks is at high tide, when the water crashes against the blowholes at the bottom and sends plumes of foam and water up in the air, nearly as high as the platform you stand on. It’s a twenty minute loop walk out to the rocks and blowholes. High tide today was at 2.15pm so I made my way over to the Pancake Rocks fifteen minutes before. There were a lot of people there. It wasn’t as windy as it was yesterday but high tide was definitely in because you could hear the waves come crashing in with a vengeance. The best bit was the Surge Pool.
There’s a huge rock in the middle of this Surge Pool chamber. When the waves come thundering in, they roll over this rock and hit the wall with such a force, that you can nearly feel the ground shuddering beneath your feet . It sends white foam upwards and outwards and then the water gets sucked back out again with the tide. I could stand all day and watch this. I love to see the power of the water crashing against the wall and the roar of it as it comes in. I can really feel its energy. That’s why I’d love to chase storms and tornadoes etc as a photographer. I also did the Truman Track which is only ten minutes drive up the coast. I got a lift there with this American guy who was staying at the hostel. It’s a fifteen minute walk out to the viewpoint, a bit further up the coast. This is quite a nice walk too, through forest which takes you out onto a picturesque part of the beach.
There are also other things you can do and see in Punakaiki such as the Punakaiki Cavern, walks along the Porari River and daily guided tours of Punakaiki with Nature’s Tours. There are a few cafes in Punakaiki but one which was highly recommended by the Intercity bus driver was the Punakaiki Tavern. I went there two evenings in a row to have dinner and it really does live up to its reputation. The first evening I went there, it was a Saturday night and quite busy but I didn’t have to wait too long for food. When the food came: bangers and mash, it was delicious. They also have a lovely garden out the back, where on a clear night, you can sit outside and watch the stars.
The day before I left, I went into the Punakaiki Tavern for something to eat and got talking to this elderly couple from Christchurch. They come up here quite often for a few days and the woman, who seemed to be a bit of a character, asked me if I had walked the Truman track. I said I had and she said “that’s the place to bring the mother-in-law. Let her follow the path under the rocks at high tide and you’ll never see her again!”