Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Two more views of the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on the 17th of February

with 37 comments

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 5164

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 5177

And let’s hear it as well for the native vegetation atop parts of these scenic rocks.

Today’s post marks the end of the fourth and penultimate* sequence of pictures from my February trip to New Zealand. Tomorrow it’ll be back to central Texas for a while (where the rains have been back, too).


* Some people have a mistaken idea of what penultimate means.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 21, 2015 at 5:06 AM

37 Responses

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  1. These are such awesome land formations – so majestic to see!

    Birder's Journey

    June 21, 2015 at 6:16 AM

    • Because the formations are so impressive, the Pancake Rocks have become a big tourist draw on New Zealand’s South Island. Plenty of other people were there on the day I visited.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 9:12 AM

  2. Yes, big applause for the vegetation. It is tenacious.


    June 21, 2015 at 6:19 AM

    • Tenacious is just the word I’ve used for that, but Charlotte Brontë beat me to it:


      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      • She has a way with words. 🙂


        June 21, 2015 at 10:28 PM

        • Yes indeed. One of the things largely missing from all the movie versions I’ve seen of Jane Eyre is the clever banter that goes back and forth between Rochester and Jane.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 21, 2015 at 11:28 PM

          • I think this was the last version I saw. Can’t remember if there was clever banter. There may not have been any to remember. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8PLpXvhtlc


            June 22, 2015 at 1:11 AM

            • I was vaguely aware that a new movie version had come out a few years ago, but I haven’t seen it. I just checked and found that the Austin Public Library has a copy, which I’ve now requested.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 22, 2015 at 6:10 AM

            • We’ve now watched that latest movie version. I find the cinematography the best of any I’ve seen, and there’s a little more of the clever banter than in most of the other versions, but no film, given just a couple of hours to tell the whole story, has come close to the subtlety and depth of the conversations in the book. Luckily we can always re-read the novel.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 6, 2015 at 4:18 PM

              • Yes, that is the pleasure of a good book, that it can be re-read. Another thing about a good book is that it seems to allow for many film re-makes, or theatre re-makes.


                July 6, 2015 at 7:16 PM

  3. I always enjoy seeing plants that have rooted themselves in unusual or difficult places. Rock doesn’t seem hospitable to us, but even plants like our mountain pinks seem to do very well in that kind of environment.

    The first photo is amusing to me. It brought to mind what seems to be a rule of life: in every group, there’s always one that’s going to wander away and do its own thing. Children, baby ducks, and artists all do it. Could it be that even a rock occasionally decides to split off from the group and go it alone?


    June 21, 2015 at 6:21 AM

    • The vegetation growing on the vertical rock surfaces reminded me of mountain pinks as well. In Austin this spring, however, nature forgot. I checked the familiar places on cliffs along Loop 360 at the appropriate time, and I found not a single mountain pink plant. Even in nearby flat caliche where I’d seen dozens of mountain pinks last year, I found just a couple of plants with less than the usual amount of flowers. Apparently the unseasonal rains this spring were too much for the species.

      As for your second-paragraph conjecture, a response in modern American lingo might be that that rock really rocks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 9:24 AM

  4. I’ve always liked the layered look. This goes to the nth degree.

    Jim in IA

    June 21, 2015 at 6:45 AM

    • It seems that the Pancake Rocks, like mathematicians, are willing to take it to the nth degree.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 9:26 AM

  5. So interesting to see the rock formations in NZ and the vegetation. It never fails to surprise me how plants grow in such inhospitable places. I am reminded of the natural bonsai trees on the Pacific Rim coast on Vancouver Island, tenacious little beauties.


    June 21, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    • In this case, what seems inhospitable to us might even have advantages for the plants: fewer animals to trample on or eat them.

      I haven’t been to Vancouver Island since 2000, but I hope to make it back there someday. I started to write that that area is so different from central Texas, but with all the rain we’ve had here for the past couple of months, there’s less difference than usual between the two places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 9:37 AM

  6. soooooo beautiful !


    June 21, 2015 at 11:20 AM

  7. I really like the layering effect in those rocks. Plants growing on rocks always hint at their tenacious yet fragile nature, yet their roots breaking up the rock by exploiting fissures play an important part in the recycling of those rocks along with wind and water.

    Steve Gingold

    June 21, 2015 at 3:02 PM

    • That layering is what led to the name Pancake Rocks, and I guess the greenery could take the place of maple syrup. These two pictures illustrate all three of the agents of change you mentioned: wind, water, plants.

      I know you could spend happy hours photographing at this place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 3:48 PM

      • I am sure I could…after too many white-knuckled agoraphobic hours of the combined effects of acrophobia and claustrophobia drifted out of my consciousness only to be revived by the knowledge that it was to be repeated.

        Steve Gingold

        June 21, 2015 at 4:04 PM

        • You might get there in the way that the original settlers did, by ship—or you might better spend your time driving to a scenic coastal spot in America, like the Maine coast that you’ve spoken about.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 21, 2015 at 11:17 PM

  8. Bonitas fotos de estos acantilados. ¡Saludos!

  9. You were so fortunate to have such fine weather. The last two (or three) times I’ve been able to get there, it was drearily overcast, windy to excess, and somewhere between spitting and deluge. Still, any opportunity to visit this natural wonder must be embraced!


    June 21, 2015 at 8:59 PM

    • The country was in something of a drought when we were there, so we got much less rain and overcast than we expected to. As you see here and have seen in other photographs from the trip, that worked in my favor as a photographer. I’m sorry you weren’t as fortunate on your last few visits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2015 at 11:26 PM

  10. Great photos really demonstrating the layers which lead to its name.
    Last night the South Island reached -20 celsius in Canterbury and we were freezing here in the Hawke’s Bay too. You came at a good time.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 23, 2015 at 12:31 AM

    • I don’t do well in cold weather, so it’s no accident that I visited during your warmest month. That way I also maximized my photo-taking opportunities.

      I’m sorry to hear about the -20°C, but I guess that isn’t unusual for winter down there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2015 at 6:29 AM

  11. […] There’s a little settlement just west of Big Bend National Park called Study Butte, whose first word is pronounced as if it were Stoody. On November 22nd I took this view of the geological formations there, whose strata now remind me a little of the Pancake Rocks in New Zealand. […]

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