I had checked the tides for Pancake Rocks before we left on our trip, as someone told us once that high tide is the best time to go. High tide was to be around 4:00 the day we visited, so we aimed to get there around 3:30. We had been noticing that the waves were quite high, and the wind was from the north-west, so we were hoping for a good show. We really felt that God blessed us, because the blowholes were spouting quite high. What a sight to see!
The first thing we admired when we arrived, however, was the nikau palms. They are quite an unusual looking palm, and the southern-most palm in the world. We noticed some beginning to bloom, then saw that others had seed or fruit clusters hanging below the leaves. Then, we were tickled to see a wood pigeon helping himself to some of the fruit!
After admiring the palms for a few minutes and poking our heads into the visitor center/gift shop, we went across the road (the main highway) to the rocks themselves. A lovely concrete path has been built through the rocks, with great viewing areas.
At one of the first overlooks, we noticed how foamy the sea was. The water was extremely turbulent.
The poor littlest boy was stuck going at the snail’s pace of his mom and grandma.
Mom and Esther admiring the rough seas.
This spot, a near-rectangle with walls all around, is in the middle of the rocks. It is aptly named the Surge Pool. Water comes in through two arches, one of which you can see here and the other is roughly under my feet from where I took the picture.
We finally got to the first blowhole! This is called Chimney Pots. If a wave of the right size comes in and ricochets off the rocks at the right angle, over and over again, it will burst up through a channel in the rocks and form a geyser. It was pretty amazing to see the path the waves had to take to get here—there were at least two right-angle corners they had to turn. The power the water still had when it reached this point was awe-inspiring.
I don’t remember what this spot was called, and I don’t know if there is an open channel to the sea or if the water comes through an archway, but it sure splashed up here!
My boys! Left-right: fourth, first, third, fifth, and second.
The Surge Pool, from the other side.
The sea on the north side of Pancake Rocks.
After we went all the way around, we decided to go back to Chimney Pot and enjoy the spectacle again. Our second boy found a spot on a bridge where the spray from the geysers blew over him. Not only did he get soaked (and later I noticed salt crusting his face!), but he lured a number of unsuspecting tourists to stand there long enough to get wet as well. I hear that he would ask them, “Do you like showers?” then keep them talking till it blew again!
I took a few videos to try to capture the experience. Of course, it isn’t anywhere as good as being there yourself, but these will give you a tiny glimpse of our experience.
This was definitely a highlight of our trip. We felt especially blessed when we were talking to a friend on the way home, who had been to Pancake Rocks a number of times, and he said he had never seen a show such as we described.