1. Hokitika is the West Coast's only full service 'Beach Town'
Hokitika has really embraced its beach - to be honest it is hard to ignore, it practically laps the main street. By day, enjoy views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and see the iconic Hokitika driftwood sign. As evening comes, have a bonfire and get a picture perfect sunset shot.
2. Hokitika has an inspired arts and culture scene
In Hokitika, there are probably more galleries and studios per capita than anywhere in NZ. You can wander around town and watch artists at work. Talk to pounamu and bone carvers, photographers, painters, glass blowers, sculptors, wood turners, potters, jewelers, craftspeople and metal, stone and textile artists. Rest a while on the Take-a-Seat art installations around town.
3. It is the birthplace of Pounamu/NZ Jade
Just north of Hokitika lies the Arahura River, the birthplace of pounamu, or New Zealand greenstone. Hokitika is a vital stop to learn about the stone and watch it being carved. There are many talented artists creating jewellery and art pieces that will make for a treasured gift back home.
4. Hokitika has a wealth of outdoor recreation
With two lakes, a major river, the mountains and the beach nearby, Hokitika offers easy access to nature experiences.
- Lake Kaniere is surrounded by mountains and bush and offers swimming and water skiing. There are lots of easy walks around the lake and a visit to the impressive Dorothy falls is a must for the family. For those wanting more adventure, hike up Mount Tahua or Brown for awesome views.
- Lake Mahinapua has numerous family-friendly walks, sailing and is a great place to swim.
- Hokitika Gorge is a must do in the area. Sometimes you see photos of a tourist spot and think yeah right, it can’t look as good as that in real life. The Hokitika Gorge is one of those places. The vivid turquoise water surrounded by lush native bush looks too good to be true but trust us, it is well worth a visit.
- The easy West Coast Wilderness Trail and more challenging Blue Spur single tracks near town mean Hokitika is a great place to bring your bike.
- Spin or fly fish for sea-run and river trout all year round and salmon can be hooked in season. Surf casting for Kahawai and white-baiting are popular.
5. Hokitika has a golden history
At the height of the gold rush, Hokitika was New Zealand's second largest port. These days you can do a self-guided heritage tour, view old images with a mobile app or visit the Hokitika Museum and an industrial heritage park. Many of the local bush walks also feature historical information and relics.
The towns of Kumara and Ross near Hokitika also offer a great look into the past.
28 km north of Hokitika, Kumara is a former gold mining town that has enjoyed a recent revitalisation. The West Coast Wilderness Trail passes through town and there are historic attractions that bring the rich history to life for visitors.
Ross is 26 km south of Hokitika and is the self-named "Gold Town". It was the centre of one of the richest New Zealand goldfields in the late 19th century and it is famous for the largest gold nugget found in New Zealand, "the Roddy Nugget". It is a great place to experience the West Coast's gold history and is one of the entry/end points of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.