Paparoa National Park.
Every national park in New Zealand is special. Each has something new, unique, beautiful, something you can not find in other national parks. And this feature distinguishes all these national parks from each other and become their own unique and unforgettable.
For example, the Paparoa National Park. It was established on November 23, 1987 on the South Island coast in the northwestern part of the West Coast. The area of the national park is small and covers 306 square kilometers. Most of the park is mountainous, with many amphitheaters, hanging valleys, and caves. Its interior and eastern area is uninhabited and little explored, and there are many hidden holes and caves. Through the rocky limestone, creating underground tunnels and extensive cave systems, flow the Punkajki , Porarari , Fox rivers. This is rare to see and is one of the special features of Paparoa Park. Parque Paparoa lies on the border between the subtropical and cool climate, so temperatures do not drop below zero, and snow can only be found in the mountains.
Flora and fauna.
Much of the territory of Paparoa National Park is covered with trees and a variety of vegetation. Here, surrounded by the leaves of the fern, grows the native New Zealand palm nikau, a little higher, the silver beech forest merges with the subalpine scrub, and even further up the mountain, among the alpine bumps, create a colorful kaleidoscope of daisies and gentian. And all this, together with the relief, mountain ranges, mysterious river canyons, skillfully carved underground caves and intricate, pancake-like, coastal formations, creates a gorgeous natural landscape, for which the national park is so famous.
And if you visit the seashore, you can see a very rare bird – the black petrel. After all, this is their home, because every year they come here to breed (district Punakaika). And this is the only place in the world where these beauties breed and only in winter. In summer their colony is deserted. The birds are protected by the state, as their population is only about four thousand. Also in the forests of the park inhabited by the kiwi bird, and Paparoa National Park is considered one of the main places of their concentration in the whole of New Zealand. The rugged shoreline of Paparoa Park is often visited by New Zealand or southern fur seals. When these fat creatures wallow on the beaches, they seem so clumsy and helpless. But in their element they are skilled and very frisky swimmers. Especially fond of mischief their pups. Along with seals in the coastal waters can swim the smallest representatives of dolphins, one and a half meter dolphins Hector.
On the very shore of the Tasman Sea is the village of Punakaiki, a few short streets and literally three dozen houses. The population of Punakaiki is about 70 people. In the north of the village flows the Porari River and in the east it is surrounded by beautiful mountains. In Punakaiki there is a tourist assistance center, a cafe, a store and several hostels. Here you can book horseback riding, canoeing or rafting. But there is no ATM or gas station in Punakaiki, so you need to think about money and gasoline in Westpark or Greymouth .
But the most important attraction in Paparoa National Park is the “Blina” cliffs, which are near Punakaiki . From the parking lot there can be reached on foot in about twenty minutes. These unique creations of nature were formed about thirty million years ago. Over thousands of years, dead marine organisms were deposited at the bottom of the ocean, at a depth of about two kilometers. Under the pressure created by the water, they were pressed, crystallized and permanently covered with sea sand. This created places with multiple layers of limestone and softer sandstone. An earthquake raised the ocean floor, and these sediments, in the form of rocks, ended up above sea level. Over time, due to crustal migration processes, the rocks joined the body of the South Island. Rain, wind, and salty sea waves began to break up the soft sandstone, resulting in these original sculptures that look very much like stacks of pancakes.
In many places along the coast, the rains broke through vertical shafts, and on the sea side, the sea waves created horizontal tunnels underground that met with air shafts. During the surf of the sea, under the pressure of the waves, large columns of water and air burst high into the sky from these earthly openings, with a noise and whistle. It is a very beautiful and impressive sight.
The tragedy of 1995.
In 1995 a tragedy occurred in the Paparoa National Park. On April 28th, near Cave Creek, a tributary of the Poparari River, a viewing platform collapsed. At the time, a group of Ta’i Poutini Polytechnic students from Greymouth were at the site. Thirteen students and their mentor were killed when they fell from a height of forty meters, and four were seriously injured.
So that’s Paparoa National Park-beautiful, distinctive, attractive, but also deadly.