Paparoa National Park Visitor Information Centre, Runanga, 7873, West Coast Region, New Zealand
Established in 1987, Paparoa National Park is perhaps most famous for the Pancake Rocks and blowholes of Dolomite Point, near the little settlement of Punakaiki.
The Paparoa Range forms an impressive backdrop to the park; made of ancient granite which has been slowly shaped by ice into its present rugged outline.
Limestone underlies most of the park and it is responsible for the area’s amazing landforms – high coastal cliffs, impressive river canyons, delicate cave formations and the bizarre ‘pancake-stack’ coastal formations that the area is so well known for.
The three blowholes at Dolomite Point put on their best performance during a south-westerly swell at high tide.
Vegetation within the park is wide and varied, due to the mild climate and high fertility. Near the coast, broadleaf forest dominates, with glades of exotic-looking nikau palms giving a subtropical feel. Large rata trees emerge above the forest canopy. Inland, the forest is made up of hard, red and silver beech, mixed with rimu and other podocarps.
Forest birds such as tui, bellbird/korimako and kereru/New Zealand pigeon migrate seasonally between coastal and upland forests.
The Westland petrel/titi colony south of the Punakaiki River is the only known place in the world where these burrowing seabirds breed. The birds live mostly out at sea, but during the breeding season you can see them flying to and from the colony at dusk and dawn.
Epic New Zealand Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound