Architectural image showing a birds-eye view for the Dolomite Point Experience Centre
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Architectural images for the Dolomite Point Experience Centre in Punakaiki have been tabled with the local community and stakeholders as work to upgrade dated visitor infrastructure at Punakaiki progresses.

Date:  14 July 2020

Phil Rossiter, Department of Conservation Project Manager says, “It’s exciting to share what the Dolomite Point Experience Centre will look like. The Centre will heighten the mana of this area and reflect the important history, both cultural and natural, of this part of Te Tai Poutini/ West Coast.

“We’ve got plenty of challenges to work through as we shape the Centre along with our partners Ngāti Waewae, and the other landowners in the area.

“The site is directly adjacent to the world famous Pancake Rocks. With the state highway running through the site, the sensitive geological nature of the area, and the tight spot it occupies between the hills behind and the conservation land in front, there are a lot of factors to consider.”

The work to build a new Experience Centre includes consideration of the surrounding area, with parking, safe and enjoyable pedestrian access, and the need to protect the sensitive environment of the area key objectives of the work.

“On top of the pragmatic elements of infrastructure, our vision is to build a Centre that confirms to visitors that they’ve arrived somewhere special. This place is a taonga and the Centre will affirm the pride we collectively feel for this area,” Mr Rossiter said.

The design is being developed in close consultation with local rūnanga, Ngāti Waewae, to ensure it reflects their values and aspirations for this area.

The design for the internal parts of the building are still being worked on. The finalised design is expected to be complete by April 2021. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2021.

The work, which is being funded by the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, will, among other things, replace the existing almost 40-year-old Department of Conservation visitor centre that opened prior to the establishment of the Paparoa National Park in 1987.

Background information

Punakaiki is a key anchor for West Coast tourism and has become an iconic and popular short-stop visitor destination on the back of the ‘Pancake Rocks’ and associated blowholes. The investment by the Government in this site recognises its importance to the visitor economy of the West Coast.

The work required includes the final design for the Experience Centre, pedestrian crossing of State Highway 6, traffic management and calming measures, parking, pedestrian and cycle paths and walkways, a pedestrian promenade, toilet facilities and overall landscaping.

In 2008, 213,000 people visited the Pancake Rocks. This increased to 511,000 in 2018, placing significant and unsustainable pressures on the dated facilities.

There is a wide range of other interested stakeholders including the local community, Government, industry and conservation groups. The work is being undertaken in partnership with Ngāti Waewae who will own and manage the new visitor Experience Centre in their role as mana whenua of this area.

The work at the site is being led by DOC and Ngāti Waewae and involves other agencies and land tenures:

  • New Zealand Transport Agency – collaboration in relation to creation of pedestrian/cycle linkages, state highway pedestrian crossing solution and traffic calming measures;
  • Buller District Council – close collaboration in relation to integration of the Greater Punakaiki Master Plan (GPMP) and DPRP and community objectives.


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