We started our drive down the west coast today. Our drive took us right along the ocean. This side of the island gets the most rain so the hillsides are covered in rainforest. There is an abundance of ferns here.
Once we reached Punakaiki, rather than continuing on, we decided to get a campsite early. We stopped in at Punakaiki Beach Camp and rented a powered camping site right on the ocean.
Just down the road were the famous pancake rocks and blowholes with a nice path leading out to them. I would love to come back to this location and paint as the rock formations are spectacular.
On our drive between our camp site and the rocks we had passed a small pull-off and sign for Punakaiki Cavern so on our way back we decided to check it out. New Zealand does an excellent job of marking even somewhat interesting things with road signs so you can easily just drive around and fill your day with things to do if you keep an open mind and have a sense of adventure.
Rather than going back to the camper to fetch a torch (Kiwi for flashlight) we ventured inside the wide and low opening, following the sounds of voices further back. Once truly inside we made our way further back with my iPhone flashlight lighting the way. I've been in massive caves before and this one was relatively small. It led back to several small rooms with trickles of water coming down the walls. Apparently you can find glowworms in here but we didn't see any. This would be a great free cave to explore with kids as there weren't any drop-offs inside.
The sunset on the beach tonight was quite spectacular. We had contemplated, and I would recommend, walking the beach but at this point in our day we were both pretty worn out.