Where Land And Ocean Meet

Paparoa National Park

Image © Timo Volz

Where Land And Ocean Meet

Paparoa National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island bridges the gap between seascape and landscape. Where the park ends a marine reserve begins, demonstrating the interconnectedness of New Zealand’s environment protections, which extend across the land, sea, and sky. On display within the park are ancient sea life and coastal formations created by uplift and water erosion. The famous Pancake Rocks look like oversize pancakes. Between the stacks of flat rocks seawater shoots up through surge pools and blowholes right next to onlookers. Beyond the coasts are incredible limestone caves and mountains. In 2017 the new Paparoa National Park Management Plan was released. The plan is a landmark example of national park governance moving towards co- management between the Department of Conservation and Maori tribes or iwi.


Pororari Gorge

Limestone that started out on the ocean floor is responsible for most of the natural structures within Paparoa National Park, including the Pororari Gorge where dramatic cliffs and buffs tower above the river.

Image © Toni Almodóvar Escuder (left),
Matt Binns (right)

Sea Animals

Paparoa National Park is as much about the sea as it is about the land. The park is home to important coastal species that thrive along the rugged coast. The area’s birdlife includes the Westland Petrel, whose return for nesting is now celebrated with an annual festival.

Images: Ed Dunens (left), Bernard Spragg (top right), Andrea Lightfoot (bottom right)

previous arrow
next arrow


Kahurangi National Park is the country’s second largest national park. It was established in 1996 and is 4520km2 in area. Its pristine forest remains a place where the presence of ancient Gondwanaland…
Abel Tasman National Park contains rock pools, estuaries, outcrops, offshore islands, and golden sand beaches that rival the tropics. It is a national park defined by its coast. Abel Tasman National Park was established in 1942…
Aoraki Mount Cook is the outcome of the Pacific and Indo-Australian plates colliding for many millions of years. The tallest mountain in New Zealand – rising 3764m almost directly out of the sea…