Paparoa National Park

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If you’re looking for towering limestone cliffs and canyons, underground streams and caves, an impressive coastline and striking coastal forest, look no further than Paparoa National Park that was established in 1987 and is well known for its blowholes at Dolomite Point and Pancake Rocks located near the small settlement of Punakaiki. It was established to protect an exceptional limestone karst environment from the mining and forestry industry. The boundaries of the park were cautiously established to include a range of landscapes and eco systems – from the layered rock formations of Punakaiki to the granite and gneiss summits of the Paparoa Range. Located in the northern part of the South Island’s West Coast, alongside State Highway 6, Paparoa National Park is situated between the towns of Greymouth and Westport. Visitors can discover some of the parks most special places by following the historic Inland Pack Track that was formed by gold miners – an unforgettable experience is camping under a natural rock shelter, the Ballroom Overhang. Most of the park has Limestone as its underlay and it is responsible for the parks impressive landforms. Molded mountain ridges, fine cave decorations, mystifying river canyons and the peculiar rock formations that look like pancakes will keep your camera and eyes occupied. The Paparoa National park is the point between subtropical and cooler climate trees – Nikau palms and cabbage trees give the lowland rainforest a lush Pacific atmosphere. If you continue up, silver beech forest combines with sub alpine shrubs, and even higher there are daisies and gentians that give colour among the tussocks. The area has plants that are unique to it that suggests it was once a botanic refuge during the ice ages. Punakaiki, a seaside village, offers a wide range of accommodation choices from bed and breakfasts to lavish sea view villas. There are no DoC (Department of Conservation) hikers huts in the park, however hikers walking the Inland Park Track can park their tents in the Ballroom Overhang campsite. Also within driving distance of the park are the historic towns of Westport and Greymouth which provide a wide range of accommodation, supermarkets and shopping. The small track to the blowholes at Punakaiki is one of New Zealand's most travelled trails, with fine reason. When the high tides correspond with westerly swells, seawater geysers burst for the sky. Behind Punakaiki there are accessible limestone caves, but remember you will need a torch. Local caving companies can help you to explore the deeper cave systems in the park, including the incredible 5 kilometre Xanadu cave. If you are looking for a more peaceful way to soak up the aura of the park, kayaking down the Pororari River is a peaceful way to do so. These scenes include dramatic limestone gorges and try your luck at bird spotting in the rainforest. There are also shorter walks for you to take advantage of, these include the Truman Track (30 minutes return) the Fox River Caves Track (3 hours return) and the Pororari River track (3 hours return) – please remember if you are doing the two-day Inland Pack Track there are no huts so you need to take a tent.
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