Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Punakaiki-Pororari loop

Punakaiki, West Coast

Submitted by Katie Smith

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 14 ?

Gnarl Factor: 25 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush



Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +11.0%

Average Downhill Gradient: -9.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







This run heads up the Punakaiki River over a big swing bridge, climbing quickly into lush mature rainforest on a good track. The only real climb of the day is over by the 2.5km mark, then the track swoops down into the Pororari River catchment, where it joins the southern end of the Inland Pack Track. To extend the run you can turn right here and add as much distance as you like - the full Pack Track is 25km long. To continue the loop, turn left - the track takes you alongside the Pororari River with its stunning limestone cliffs looming overhead, in and out of small tunnels before popping out on the main road. To complete the loop, go left along the main road for 1km. Before you climb up over the bluff you will pass the entrance to Punakaiki Cavern, a nice little detour if you have a head torch. Then head up the bluff to where the track out to the blowholes and Pancake Rocks starts - you could extend your run further here but might find there are a few tourists sharing the track! Continue down the other side and back to the car park.

Beautiful limestone formations and little caves alongside the Pororari River.
Punakaiki Cave is a short detour off the bit of sealed road - take a torch.
The Weka Wall provides fun easy sport climbing by the original car park if you've got the gear!

Plenty of parking. Buses available on a daily basis.

2 km

4 minutes




As long as you turn left at the only track intersection you can't go wrong!

Generally good.

Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Plenty from the rivers, small creeks also crossed

The bits of track by the Pororari can be slippery after rain - areas limestone rock

Punakaiki Tavern
Nice atmosphere, reasonable food.

Pancake Rocks Cafe
Great pancakes!

Fox River markets
If you're running on a Sunday through the summer, head up the Coast Road to the Fox River market for some great coffee and a wander on the beach, or another run up the Fox River track!

Trail Legend


Vaughan Jones

has completed Punakaiki-Pororari loop once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great wee loop. Loved all the limestone, the lazy rivers, and the lush bush. Sooo many nikau palms! The Pororari track was nice and cool on a hot day. I decided to take the 1867 Historic Inland Pack Track detours for a bit of adventure. They were fine, but next time I would just stick to the main track.

Matt Halverson

February 15, 2023

Ran this in reverse from the Pororari River track carpark and enjoyed the undulating warmup for the legs. The hill section is beautifully graded for bikes so is wonderfully runable. Enabled by a car pickup I skipped the sealed path section after coming out at the swingbridge over Punakaiki River which is easily accessible to finish with a swim.

Rebecca Sunderland

December 27, 2021

Great easy track since it’s been regraded. Great views of the limestone cliffs at parts and gorgeous Nikau palms. Very accessible in both location and doability

Natasha Furness

February 16, 2021

Loved this train in 2016. Especially the northern most section from The beach up the river to the saddle. Thoroughly recommend.

George Elder

May 6, 2020

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