Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in the afternoon, Dolomite Point, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

I really like pancakes. I also really like rocks. So when I found out there’s a natural phenomenon on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island called The Pancake Rocks, I knew I was going to have to pay a visit. The pancake rocks are perched on a tiny coastal outcropping near the town of Punakaiki and do a lot to live up to their name. The rocks are made of a series of limestone “pancakes” that were originally laid down in a process called stylobedding, which is scientist speak for “we have no idea how this happened.” Over time the layers have been eroded over to form a rock garden of fantastically sculpted shapes.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Putai Blowhole at sunset, Dolomite Point, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Not a bad place to watch the sun go down

In some places the rocks have been eroded all the way down to sea level. So when the big swells at high tide come booming in, the water shoots out through the pancake rocks in a series of blowholes, the most spectacular of which is the Putai Blowhole.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Putai Blowhole at sunrise, Dolomite Point, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

You have to be a bit careful while shooting the blowholes though, because as we learned, the wind and the fallout from these big blasts can be a right pain in your butt.

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