Hokitika, cool little town
Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika
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Hokitika - cool little town
Hokitika is a cool little town. It's easily walkable and has the West Coast's only beachside town centre. And there is plenty to do with a large artisan community, interesting history and mountains, the river, two lakes and the beach nearby.
Top 5 things to see and do in Hokitika
Tue, 8 August 2017
Well known for it's many heritage buildings, art shops, wildlife centres and driftwood beach sculptures, Hokitika is a pivotal township along the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
Our year round cycling itineraries include a 2 night stay in this vibrant and humble town so we've come up with 5 top things to see and do in Hokitika to help you plan your next trip.
1. West Coast Scenic Waterway
The West Coast Scenic Waterway is a highlight of the West Coast, and a must-do when in Hokitika. The boat cruise tours up the Mahinapua waterways, tracing the original route that was used by the gold miners and pioneers of the mid-late 19th century. On the way to Lake Mahinapua you will experience stunning views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps and the incredibly unique West Coast wildlife and native bush.
Our Cycle Journeys 4-Day West Coast itinerary is designed to allow time to fit in the waterway cruise on the morning of day 2. If you would like to incorporate this into your West Coast Wilderness Trip please let us know and we will be happy to arrange it for you.
2. Treetop Walkway and Café
Perfectly located along the West Coast Wilderness Trail between Ross and Hokitika, the Treetop Walkway and Café is an exhilarating adventure set 20m above ground amongst the ancient native Rimu and Kamahui tree canopy.
With views of Lake Maninapua from the walkway there is even a 40m tower where the Tasman Sea can be seen in one direction and the snow-capped Southern Alps in the other. Enjoy a drink, snack, or lunch in the spacious on-site café while you’re there.
The Treetop Walkway is sooo good, we include an entry ticket with our Cycle Journeys 4-day West Coast Trail itinerary. It times in perfectly for a coffee stop after a couple hours cycling on day 1 of the trip.
3. Sunset Point
Photo: Kate Veale
A picture speaks a thousand words right? Make your way to Sunset Point at the end of the day to catch the last light of the day. Take some fish and chips down to the beach with you for that authentic Kiwi experience.
4. The National Kiwi Centre
Located right in the centre of Hokitika itself, the National Kiwi Centre features some of New Zealand’s most iconic and rarely seen wild animals in a facility that replicates their natural environment. Spot a native Kiwi, or NZ’s largest reptile and oldest living dinosaur, the Tuatara.
Whist your there, take part in feeding the giant long-finned eels – unique to the center and the biggest freshwater eel in the world!
5. Glowworm Dell
Just a short stroll from the northern end of town, and free to the public, Hokitika's Glowworm Dell is a great spot to visit in the evening.
Let us know if you would like any more info on these activities and we can work them into your West Coast Wilderness itinerary.
Hokitika is a 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.
Hokitika Arts, Culture & Heritage
In Hokitika, there are probably more galleries and studios per capita than anywhere in NZ. You can wander around town and what the artists at work. Talk to pounamu and bone carvers, photographers, painters, glass blowers, sculptors, wood turners, potters, jewellers, craftspeople and metal, stone and textile artists. Rest a while on the Take-a-Seat art installations around town.
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 Birthplace of Pounamu
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.
Hokitika 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 Mounts Tahua or Brown for awesome views.
Lake Mahinapua has numerous family-friendly walks, sailing and is a great place to swim.
The 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 whitebaiting are popular.
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.