Punakaiki, West Coast, New Zealand : Official Tourism Website

Walks, tramping & hiking in Punakaiki

If you like walking you’re spoilt for choice around Punakaiki. There’s everything from a 15 minute visit to the Punakaiki Cavern through to the newest Great Walk in the country, the 55km Paparoa Track. The walks go through luxuriant coastal forest, beneath limestone cliffs alongside spectacular canyons, and follow pristine rivers. If you’re by the sea look out for Hectors dolphins, in the forest see how many bird calls you can recognise.

Click here to check the Department of Conservation website for track alerts and more information


Short walks – less than one hour

Truman Track

This walk begins in beautiful sub-tropical rainforest featuring ferns, nikau palms, rimu, rata and weka. It emerges onto a headland with stunning views. Entrance is about 3km north of the Paparoa Park Visitor Centre, car parking on opposite side of road.
Time: 30 mins return
Distance: 1.4 km

Punakaiki Cavern Walk

Punakaiki Cavern

Wooden stairs lead down into safe passages within the cavern. Look out for stalactites and glow worms. Take a torch. Located about 500m north of Dolomite Point.
Time: as long as you like
Distance: 130m of passages

Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Track, Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

The Pancake Rocks track starts opposite the Paparoa Park Visitor Centre and winds through rainforest out to the coast. It’s an all-weather short paved walk that’s great for children. The walk is suitable for wheelchairs (with assistance) apart from an optional short section with steps.
Time: allow about 45 mins to explore and take photos
Distance: 1.1 km loop


Longer half and full-day walks

Ballroom Overhang Track

Ballroom Overhang

The Ballroom Overhang, about 500 meters upstream from the Fox River/Dilemma Creek confluence, is a large limestone outcrop which acts as a shelter. Some of Paparoa National Park’s finest limestone features are in this area. Track starts at the carpark at the mouth of the Fox River.
Time: 4 hr
Distance: 12km return

Pororari River–Bullock Creek

Pororari River–Bullock Creek Road

This hike follows a section of the Inland Pack Track linking the Pororari River Track with scenic Bullock Creek Road. It passes through part of the Paparoa limestone syncline (a fold of stratified rock). After reaching Bullock Creek flats follow the gravel road to the highway.
Time: 5–6 hr
Distance: 15 km round trip

Pororari River Track Walk

Pororari River Track

A beautiful rainforest walk beside a river with huge rocks set in deep pools which is also part of the Paparoa Track. After about 15 minutes of easy walking there’s a seat with views of the limestone gorge. The track becomes a little steeper as you carry on to where it intersects with the biking section of the Paparoa Track.
Time: 1.5 hours
Distance: 7 km

Cave Creek Track Walk

Cave Creek Memorial Track/Kotihotiho

Begins at the car park on Bullock Creek road. The track goes down to the deep, narrow chasm of Cave Creek surrounded by moss-covered rocks and overhanging trees. In 2020, as part of the 25th anniversary of the Cave Creek tragedy, the track was renamed the Cave Creek Memorial Track/Kotihotiho. 
Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Distance: 4 km return

Pororari River Punakaiki Loop Track Walk

Pororari–Punakaiki Loop Track

This combines the southern section of the Paparoa Track, which mountainbikers use, with the Pororari River Track. From the Waikori Road carpark it crosses the Punakaiki River via a footbridge, then over the ridge dividing the two river valleys. From the Pororari car park it is a 1 km walk south along the highway to the visitor centre.
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 11 km


Overnight trips

Paparoa Track Great Walk

Paparoa Track

The country’s newest great walk is a fantastic hike or ride through spectacular forest and alpine wilderness. It begins on the Croesus track, via the Smoko-ho car park near Blackball and crosses over the Paparoa Range to end in Punakaiki.
More details: Department of Conservation website
Time: 2–3 days walking one way; 1–2 days mountain biking one way
Distance: 55 km one way

Inland Pack Track

Inland Pack Track

This runs between the Punakaiki and Fox rivers. It was built in 1867 during the gold rush to avoid dangerous coastal travel. The pack track gives access to some of the finest features of Paparoa National Park. There are no huts along the way, but it’s possible to camp under the Ballroom Overhang.
More details: Department of Conservation website
Time: 2–3 days
Distance: 27 km one way