Friday 11 October 2019

The Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki, New Zealand

On this trip I was hosted by Tourism New Zealand.

The day after I arrived at Greymouth on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, I was taken to the Pancake Rocks. This geological feature in tiny coastal Punakaiki is a standard feature on the local sightseeing list. As it was a wet and windy day, I hoped it would be worth the trip and not deserve Dr Samuel Johnson’s infamous line about the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland: “Worth seeing, but not worth going to see.”

Luckily, it was worth visiting. At first glimpse I assumed it was simply a set of eroded rock formations, a sort of scaled-down version of Victoria’s Twelve Apostles:

But once we left the vehicle and started walking along the circular track which grants views of the rocks, I started to see what the fuss was about. Not only do the rocks present interesting craggy shapes, but they’re constructed of multiple horizontal layers (hence ‘pancakes’):

It’s an intriguing feature. Even better, according to signage along the path, scientists have no clear idea how the rocks happened to form in this very specific way. It’s nice to think there are still wonders in the world.

The path winds in such a way that new views are regularly revealed as it twists and turns above the ocean. At one point, looking back, it appeared as if the ruins of a great ancient city were standing above the water: 

In addition to the formations, there’s the attraction of the turbulent ocean which sloshes around them, forced up through blowholes, and crashing powerfully through surge pools such as the one below:

The Kiwi sense of humour is never far away, even in the midst of such natural grandeur. This set of formations was given extra meaning by the sign in the foreground, ascribing animals to each rocky outline:

Once you’ve seen that rodent on the right, you can never go back.

No comments:

Post a Comment