Truman Track Punakaiki NZ: A Jaw-Dropping West Coast Walk

If there’s one place that shows off the untouched allure of New Zealand’s wilderness, it’s Truman Track. This West Coast short walk, not far from Punakaiki, ranks as one of our favourite short walks on the South Island of New Zealand. The easy walk is a mouth-dropping experience, from the lush subtropical rainforest to the wild, rugged coastline. Keep reading to find out what you will see, how to get there, and if the Truman Track Punakaiki NZ walk is worth stopping for.

Views from Truman Track walk to Pancake Rocks.

How long is the Truman Track New Zealand Walk

The Truman Track is 1.4 km long. It is well-marked, covered in fine gravel, and level. The walk in one direction takes 12 minutes. The return trip takes a few minutes longer as there are a couple of gentle uphill climbs and a staircase at the end.

Unlike many tracks on the wet West Coast, we encountered no slippery surfaces on this track.

We highly recommend the Truman Track Punakaiki as a very easy walk for all ages and fitness levels.

Truman Track walk bush views.

A Lush Paradise

Upon setting foot on the trail, you’ll instantly feel a sense of tranquillity. Dense rainforest lines the track, with towering native trees draped in lush greenery reaching for the skies and rays of sunlight filtering through the canopy. The unspoiled nature looks like something out of a fairy tale.

The track contains some incredibly large trees, some of the biggest ones we’ve spotted in New Zealand. It’s a dramatic scene. 

Expect to see native New Zealand bush, such as podocarp, rimu, matai, rata, and nikau palms.

Keep a look out for the native birdlife that calls this haven home, especially the cheeky wekas that roam the forest.

Rainforest views on the Truman Track walk

Walking to the Coast

As you wander through the rainforest, you hear the sound of the waves crashing onto the sand. 

The dense vegetation gives way to a gorgeous flax grove. Walk for two minutes through the flax grove, and you will reach the rugged, untamed coast.

At the end of the walk, a viewing platform offers the most spectacular coastal views, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Ocean views from the Truman Track, Punakaiki, NZ

If you are feeling adventurous, you can walk down a stairway to the beach. Here, you can get a closer look at the beach, cliffs, caves, waterfalls, blowholes, and the wild ocean.

Walking on the pebbly beach and seeing the rock formations up close adds another exciting element to the walk.

If you love caves:

Make sure you do not miss Punakaiki Cavern, which is just a short drive north of this walk.

What We Really Like About Truman Track

Besides the fact that it is a short and easy walk through the most majestic old-growth forest and giant trees, we adore the epic coastal panoramas.

But what we are particularly impressed with is the signs that DOC has erected, which provide information about specific tree species and help educate people about them.

It’s worth mentioning that while you double back on the trail, the breathtaking views of the trees from a different angle are just as exciting as when you first saw them on the way in.

We’ve walked on this track many times, and it never gets boring!

Flax and mountain views on the Wsst Coast, NZ

New Zealand South Island Travel Insider Tips

  • Bring insect repellant, as a few sandflies are about on the beach.
  • Do not stay too close to the cliff’s rock overhangs, as rocks can fall and cliffs collapse.
  • When walking down to the beach during high tide, be extra careful. The ocean can become wild and unpredictable, and the location is known to have rogue waves. We witnessed a couple stranded on one side of the bay and running through surging waters to return to the stairs. Furthermore, DOC advises not to swim in these waters and other beaches along this coast due to tidal currents and rips.
  • The beach is part of the Punakaiki Marine Reserve. Therefore, fishing and taking marine life are not allowed. Also, no dogs are allowed on this trail.
  • Make sure to look out for elusive Little Blue Penguins. While they are hard to spot, they do live around this area for parts of the year. (August to February)
  • Drones are only allowed if you have a permit.
  • The walk is much easier than the Pancake Rocks & Blowholes walk!
Views of cliffs and ocean from the Truman Track walk

How to Get to Truman Track

Truman Track is just 3 km north of Punakaiki village. The track start is off SH 6 (The Great Coast Road.)

You can walk from the village along a sealed path on Coast Road. The path is also a bicycle track. Or, you can drive and park in the small car park area and cross the road to start the walk.

Punakaiki is approximately 4 hours from Christchurch.

From Westport or Greymouth, it takes about 45 minutes to reach Punakaiki.

Ocean and cliff views, West Coast, NZ

What Else to See in the Punakaiki Area

Besides the Pancake Rocks & Blowholes, which is why you have probably come to the area, do not miss viewing the Punakaiki cavern.

Other things you should not miss in Punakaiki include Punakaiki Canoes, which give you a chance to kayak into the most epic wilderness we have ever kayaked in, and the Pororari River Track walk.

Read more about visiting these wonders and the Best Things to See and Do in Punakaiki.

Is Truman Track worth doing?

The Truman Track walk offers a chance to see the Jurassic wilderness of the West Coast. The best things about it are that you don’t have to walk far to witness its natural wonders, and you can quickly return in 30 minutes.

The walk is easily accessible for everyone, allowing young and old an opportunity to see untouched wilderness.

Next time we will go at sunset time. Sunsets over the West Coast coastline are epic!

Truman Track viewing platform with Views of cliffs and ocean.
Pinterest pin with photo of very tall trees

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