Pukekura is located near Lake Ianthe in the West Coast region of the South Island. State Highway 6 passes through Pukekura on its route between Ross and Harihari, and the settlement is roughly 35 minutes south of Hokitika and an hour north of Franz Josef Glacier. It claims to be the smallest town on the West Coast, with a population of two, though this was larger in past times when it was a saw-milling settlement. Timber was cut in the area from the early 1950s until the mid-1980s, and the town has now been re-established as a tourist centre, with a Bushman's Centre, pub, and accommodation. The forest around the town is now a protected forest.
A possible translation of the name from Māori to English is "red hill".