Sunday stills – Weathering the millennia of wind and waves

Wind and waves have worked their magic and stacked layers of limestone pancakes upon which to feast our eyes. 

One of my favourite geological formations to visit is the Pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, West Coast NZ. I never get tired of viewing the impressive results of wind, wave and seaspray on the limestone formations of Dolomite Point.


The Pancake Rocks and blowholes

Each ‘pancake’ consists of a layer of limestone layer made up of tiny shell fragments, separated from the next pancake by a thin layer of siltstone. Thousands of years of rain, wind and sea spray have etched the softer siltstone into nearly-horizontal grooves, and rounded the edges of the limestone layers, which together look like giant layers of pancakes.

Dolomite Point has a maze of underground passages and large open caverns which face the sea. When there’s a big swell, and the ocean surges into these caverns, water is forced into the passages. Looking for an escape route it follows the passages to the surface. As high tide approaches huge geysers of spray burst skywards. When there’s a big sea running the blowholes are spectacular.

On this day the tide was high and huge waves were rolling in. Luck was on my side. 

I made many images to try to capture that big geyser of spray. Many moments were spent patiently watching and waiting with my camera at the ready in hopeful expectation that the next surge will bring forth that loud whoosh as the waves rise up through the underground passages and burst high above the pancake rock formations. 


Delighting in seeing the power of both the wind and the salt spray trickling back down through the pancake layers. It is fascinating indeed to see the weathering of the rocks still in action as it has been for thousands of years, creating the astounding formations we see today. 


I first saw these spectacular limestone pancakes more than fifty years ago. Then we revisited them with our young children many times and yes, this was way before the area was upgraded with safety fences and sealed pathways. We allowed our kids to explore those tracks between the layered rocks. Whatever was I thinking? 


Looking down into the Devils cauldron ( as it was known then) it is quite mesmerizing watching the force of the waves. Not the place to fall into. Those crumbling cliffs are quite slippery with the constant sea spray. And yet, it is indeed captivating to watch the swirling wave action.  I was too preoccupied watching where my feet were stepping to take a photo of the devils cauldron this day.

Back home I finally got time to do some editing, here are the results of my weathering topic for the Sunday Stills ‘weather’ week. – It could also be for last week’s ‘water’ theme I guess for which I missed the deadline.

We finished off these few days by parking over at Fox River freedom parking site where the local “Rusty Cup’ coffee cart served us real  pancakes with layers of bacon and banana with lashings of maple syrup for breakfast.  Almost breakfast in bed – lol.  On a side note, I caught up with my work colleague from a few years back – together we had ‘weathered’ many rough and tough work days so it was lovely to catch up and share memories as we ate the pancakes and drank the strong coffee.

All that was left to say is “Pass the maple syrup please!”

4 thoughts on “Sunday stills – Weathering the millennia of wind and waves

  1. So great to see you at Sunday Stills this week, Liana, and yes, your wonderful images work for water too! What an unusual location and natural phenomenon to see. Our planet is full of amazing sights! Those pancakes sound delicious as I read your post this Friday morning here. Have a great week and glad you could share with us today!

    Liked by 1 person

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