I think the people that live in New Zealand have to be the luckiest people on the planet. Now, I’m all for National Pride–don’t get me wrong; but the wonders and spectacles that await in the Land of Kiwi… well, that’s something to behold, and it’s all because of the Pancake Rocks in the Paparoa National Park.

Paparoa National Park

It might not be the most sophisticated name, but this is the Earth’s work, at well, work. Thousands and thousands of years ago the immense pressure of an ever shifting world (along with seawater) caused these limestone stacks–thus creating a layered flapjack look.

What’s even better are the “blowholes”, where the seawater shoots up through the limestone. The biggest sprays take place during high tide, so it’s best to check with the local Visitors Centre. A walk around the hiking trail shouldn’t take more than an hour–which is good ’cause there’s plenty more to do within Paparoa.

It’s best to pace yourself, you know.Short hikes, long hikes, cave exploration–you can do it all. You’ll be hard pressed to find someplace other than Paparoa to go from sandy coastal areas to rugged mountains in only 306 square kilometers.

And the local wildlife in Paparoa National Park is as diverse as its terrain. Look out for the Weka (look down, it’s a flightless bird), or maybe some rare sea birds that you could encounter on any number of hiking trails. If you’re headed into one of the countless caves, you might find yourself face to face with some other creatures–most famously the glowworms.

A guided Glowworm Tour is the best way to make your way around the caves, and to see these shimmering babies, which aren’t worms at all.

Guys, say you’re not into that whole “oh look, shiny things” thing–you might change your mind when you’re forging your own knife. Yeah, that shiny thing is your very own blade that you made at Barrytown Knifemaking. It’ll take you all day, but you’ll have something that you made all yourself when you’re done.

What you need after all that is some time at one of the spas in the town of Punakaiki. All the kayaking, hiking, and biking around Paparoa can sure make those over-40-muscles tired. Pamper yourself with massages and facials to rest up those overworked body parts.

The number of activities with the Paparoa National Park makes it the ultimate destination for everyone. You’ll find something to keep the whole gang happy–then you’ll see I’m not the only one who’ll be saying that the folks living here are the luckiest people on the planet.

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