Hotel Review: Paparoa Park Motel, Punakaiki, New Zealand


Traveler’s Digest travels the globe looking for the best each country has to offer. On our tour of New Zealand, we found more than we anticipated. This country is the ultimate blending of lakes, rolling hills, rain forest, mysterious valleys and inspiring lagoons. I prefer the beautiful west coast of the south island. This spectacular area is a continuation of jagged bays, rugged mountains and deep mystic forests. In the winter months when the sun is low, the entire region is shrouded in mist and ravaged by the relentless ocean. Raw and untamed, it presents a never ending story of the creativity of nature. In the midst of this beautiful land lays a blue ice glacier that crept it’s way down the face of a million year old mountain, effortlessly pushing aside the trees of an encompassing rain forest. There are actually two glaciers, the world famous Franz Josef Glacier and just a few kilometers away, the Fox Glacier. The small village of Franz Josef and the town of Fox Glacier are both in the Westland National Park. Continuing north along the coast is Punakaiki, best known for its Pancake rock landscapes. The ocean crashes into these bizarre shaped rocks and roars a hundred feet into the air through the natural blow holes. The sight is breathtaking and will instill images that will last a lifetime. While touring the area we decided to stay at the Paparoa Park Motel. Their location atop a large hill overlooking this magnificent bay with the Pancake rocks was indescribable. The entire region is one of the most fascinating places on Earth.

As we drove into their driveway it started raining hard and soon turned into hail. I’m from Texas and believe me…I have seen lots of it! I walked hurriedly into their office and was met by a large black, purring, cat. She obviously knew when to come out of the rain… It’s friendliness was a true testimony to the love it received from it’s owners. The resident managers, Pam and Cam Bates soon came to the office and I was given a key and directions to our room within a minute. It was cold and rainy, and their friendly nature forbade them from delaying us, the comfort of a warm, dry room, with a lot of questions.

The room was large, built out of native timber, with a cozy rustic feel. The night was cold, windy and extremely stormy. I sat out on the covered deck for hours watching the storm unleash it’s fury against the coast. I felt connected to it’s power. The night was cleansing her soul while awakening mine. My thoughts and emotions were in total harmony on this stormy, magic night in the land that….. Time Forgot!

The next morning, we spent the day at the Blow Holes. The hours flew by as we marveled at the landscape, the waves crashing on the rocks, it seemed as if the sea was exploding. After spending the afternoon in this picturesque town, we reluctantly drove away taking our memories of this beautiful land and it’s friendly people with us.

My name is Mike Smith. I am the touring editor. Myself and a small party toured throughout New Zealand and Australia for the most part of the year, and you can read all about our adventures in our reviews. In the left index of our home page, click on Traveler’s Digest 2002 Tour. We hope you enjoy our adventures and will visit us often. Remember….when you get ready for the trip of your life……… We will be here!

We recommend New Zealand in general and this particular west coast region of the south island in particular. Exploring this fairytale land was like living a dream. If you have any sense of adventure and appreciation of untamed nature and it’s creating forces that are still evident today, you will eventually come to the land of “The Lord of The Rings.” When you do, be sure to stay with our friends, Pam and Cam Bates at the Paparora Park Motel… Rain or shine, they will take good care of you and make sure that your adventure is as embracing as their hospitality.

The adventures of life and the passions of love…… Feed the soul!

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Michael Smith was the touring editor for Traveler’s Digest. His journeys took him across the world and on a series of unforgettable adventures!