We arrived at Punakaiki in time for the high tide. The blow holes are more impressive at high tide and even more so if there is a swell (which there wasn't really).
The easy walk around the cliff tops takes less than 30 minutes - depending upon how long you take to watch the blow holes. When you're not looking at the coastal view the view back inland is flax (Harakeke), flax, a bit more flax and Nikau palms, then high hills covered in bush and Nikau palms.
|a squat Nikau|
The day we left the West Coast we also drove past Punakaiki and it happened to be high tide again. We just had to stop as that day was windy and the sea was quite choppy in contrast to the first day that was mostly sunny and calm.
Another natural feature is the Punakaiki Cavern, this is adjacent to the main road and access is quite easy. The cave goes in ~140m and apparently there are glow worms - we learnt this on the way out so hadn't been looking for them! We were rather noisy so maybe they had switched themselves off. We all had head torches and once you got used to ducking and the slippery rocks it was fun.
|inside (odd light due to flash)|