Jack's Blowhole

See the powerful natural feature named after a Māori chief by following a short trail on a private sheep farm.

Jack’s Blowhole, named after a 19th-century Māori chief with a big mouth, is a natural phenomena that has mesmerized and intrigued onlookers for centuries. Set out on a pleasant walk to see this hidden gem in the Tunnel Rocks Scenic Reserve. Even this far inland, the South Pacific lets its presence be known.

The blowhole was named after Hone Tūhawaiki, a Māori chief. The Ngâi Tahu leader was nicknamed Bloody Jack by New Zealand’s early European settlers. In 1844, Tūhawaiki’s boat hit some rocks in the South Pacific Ocean, taking the great South Island chief with it.

From Jack’s Bay, follow the markings for the Jack’s Blowhole Track. The serenity of the surrounding lush farmlands with its grazing sheep and waving flax stands in stark contrast to the power of the ocean you are just about to witness. If the conditions are right, watch the water come out of the blowhole 180 feet (55 meters) below the lookout point.

Jack’s Blowhole is some 472 feet (144 meters) long and 223 feet (68 meters) wide. The tunnel was formed when the roof of a subterranean karst cave collapsed after millions of year of erosion. The resulting channel allows the ocean waves to travel 656 feet (200 meters) inland and spurt out in the narrow gorge.

Come here when the seas are rough or during high tide to see the best action. Hear the roars and wait for the foaming water to crash into the cliffs. On calmer days it is less spectacular, but still worthwhile to watch.

Find Jack’s Blowhole in the southeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island. The blowhole is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) southeast of Owaka and is signposted from the Southern Scenic Route. Simply park your car at Jack’s Bay and follow the signs. There are toilet facilities at the start of the trail.

Note that the track and the blow hole are located on a private farm and are closed during lambing season, from September to November. Entry is free but visitors are asked to respect the farmer’s privacy and property and stay on the track. You have to climb over fence stiles along the way. Allow about 1 hour for the return trip.