February 28 Day of the Weka (Day 154)

Today’s adventure started with a 20 minute drive south to the Punakaiki River, past the visitors center for Paparoa National Park and the entrance to Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Track. We parked in the new visitors carpark that accesses the Paparoa Track, a tramping and mountain biking trail that goes up into the Paparoa range of mountains. We were taking a small section of the trail, mostly because it starts with a swing bridge and ends at another swing bridge!

The first swing bridge, over the Punakaiki River, heading north.

The entrance to the trail shortly after crossing the river has a waharoa, an entranceway, carved to look like the ruru (morepork) owl of NZ.

The trail took us up, up, up over a small summit and then down, down, down to the next river north, through lush mixed forest with tree ferns, palms, tall native podocarps, and lush ferny undergrowth. All overlaid on limestone karst rock with streams cutting through it. We encountered some fellow hikers, and some wildlife, particularly several Weka!

The first of many Weka we saw, bold, curious birds who mostly ignored us!

We thought we heard bleating in the bush, and then saw this little feral goat who quickly disappeared deeper into the forest. We heard several more bleats later on the trail too.

We reached the junction in the trail that took us the few minutes to the 2nd swing bridge.

This bridge crosses the Pororari River.

At the junction we encountered more Weka!

We had to decide, do we backtrack on the trail over the summit to the carpark, or do we take the trail that follows the Pororari River to the ocean? It was getting hot out and the river trail seemed so much easier!

We were so glad we did. This trail was very different, with great views of the river and more palm trees, but also more people!

Another waharoa at the entrance/exit of this trail.

We now had to walk through Punakaiki along the road to make a loop back to the car!

Even walking along the road is scenic, with the cliffs and lots of palm trees!

This walk took us past the previously mentioned Paparoa National Park Visitors Center, which is open but a new larger center is under construction next to it. The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Track is across the street. It being high tide when we reached the entrance, it was prime time to visit, so we took the half hour walk and enjoyed the dramatic sights and sounds of waves crashing against the bizarrely eroded rocks, surge pools pulsating with rushing seawater, a blowhole spurting what looked like steam and hearing the booming sounds of underwater caverns filling and emptying of ocean waves!

You can see the ‘pancake’ shape of the rocks, caused by alternating layers of siltstone and limestone eroded over eons.

One of the dramatic surge pools!

After all that drama it was an uneventful walk the rest of the way back to the car, a loop of 8 miles total!


Leave a Reply