Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Punakaiki

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Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 5097

The name Punakaiki sounds a little like the English word pancake, so it’s something of a coincidence that the town of Punakaiki on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island is home to the Pancake Rocks. Here in this February 17th view you see one section of these intriguing formations played off the against the blue of the Tasman Sea. If you’d like, you can read more about the geological process that produced these curious structures.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2015 at 5:15 AM

16 Responses

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  1. You certainly got a beautiful blue sea day at Punakaiki.


    April 13, 2015 at 6:00 AM

    • As I recall, it was sunny all day, very pleasant for a drive up the scenic highway on the west coast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2015 at 6:13 AM

      • My main memory of the West Coast is of rain plus dark green or grey sea. When I visited Greymouth as a child I thought it was the greyest place I had ever seen. The name made perfect sense to me.


        April 13, 2015 at 6:52 AM

        • It’s understandable why your experience merged with the name. Maybe a return visit on a sunny day will change the town to Brightmouth for you—or you could just drive across Christchurch to New Brighton.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 13, 2015 at 7:01 AM

          • Well, I would certainly like to see it looking its brightest and best. The other day we did drive to New Brighton; the sea was bright and blue, and the air temperature was 27C. Delightful.


            April 13, 2015 at 8:05 AM

  2. Of course, these formations have been exposed through erosion over time, but the name seems so appropriate for their appearance. It looks as though they have been constructed one strata at a time which, in reality, they have.

    Steve Gingold

    April 13, 2015 at 12:31 PM

    • And the nature photographer’s temptation is to take one picture for each of the many strata. I limited myself to several dozen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2015 at 1:30 PM

  3. Great photo. I have lost my photos of these formations. It is rather impressive seeing them in person

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 13, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    • Yes, I spent about an hour there and could have spent plenty more time if other places didn’t beckon. I’m sorry you lost your pictures from Punakaiki, but that sounds like a good reason for going back.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2015 at 6:12 PM

  4. The rocks look for all the world like fans in a stadium doing “the wave” — rather appropriate, really, there at the edge of the sea. Perhaps they even have a very slow, very quiet chant to go along with their movement: “Lean to the left; lean to the right; erode through the ages; quite a sight!”


    April 14, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    • Thanks for bringing attention to the leaning. Yours may be the world’s first geological chant ever.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2015 at 8:16 AM

  5. The effects of weathering really fascinate me. I would have spent a few hours enjoying this “pancake” layering. They remind me of the 3D jigsaw puzzles one can assemble these days. I saw a Sphinx one recently. Excellent picture again, Steve.


    April 14, 2015 at 10:27 PM

    • I’ve never tried putting together a 3D jigsaw puzzle of the type you’re referring to, but it just occurred to me that composing a photograph is a sort of 3D puzzle, and I often move around looking for a happy alignment of subject against background. Photographers even use the word depth as part of the phrase depth of field, which in aesthetic terms amounts to depth of feel.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 15, 2015 at 7:30 AM

  6. […] let me pass by without photographing them. The forms at the left are a miniature version of the Pancake Rocks that appeared here a month […]

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