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When we think of the winter blues we think down in the dumps, the moody blues but for the West Coast when we say the winter blues we mean blue skies and blue seas and some of the most fantastic lighting for photography.
A great place to visit to get that experience of the West Coast winter blues is Punakaiki and a walk around the Pancake Rock formations. With views in all directions, it is a great place to showcase the blue skies and blue seas.
Punakaiki is an easy drive from Breakers - just 20 minutes further north on one of the most spectacular drives in New Zealand and according to Lonely Planet one of the top ten coastal drives in the world.
The pancake rock walk is the jewel in the crown for Punakaiki. A natural phenomena, they were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed. Mildly acidic rain, wind and seawater sculpted the bizarre shapes. Called pancake rocks because they look like staked up pancakes. And there-in lies today's geology lesson.
It is an easy paved path around the rock formations giving great view points and helpful information boards explaining the geology, flora and fauna that can be found both on the trail and out at sea. The walk is also renown for its blowholes at high-tide. Personally I think too much is made of the blowholes as you need not only high tide but you need the right winds blowing and a good swell - often meaning a weather trade-off. I think the walk is spectacular in its own right and a photographer's paradise. If you happen to get a day for some blowhole action then just consider that a much added bonus.
Make sure you include the Pancake Rock walk at Punakaiki in your itinerary when visiting the West Coast - highly under-rated and great remedy for the winter blues.
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