What to Do in Hokitika, Also Known as “Jade Country”.
An unmissable town on the West Coast, Hokitika is in the heart of “Jade Country” where you might be lucky enough to spot jade, otherwise known as greenstone and pounamu, washed up by the river. The easiest places to see jade though is in the art galleries and jade studios of Hokitika town or learn about the history in the Hokitika Museum. For the more outdoorsy types, Hokitika Beach offers magical sunsets, while the nearby Lake Kaniere and Lake Mahinapua offer tranquillity among the native forest. See what else you could get up to with this list of things to do in Hokitika.
While you’re here, check out the 5 Hokitika Must-Dos.
1. Visit Hokitika Gorge
It’s the ultimate photo stop! Hokitika Gorge is a stunning river gorge where no Instagram filters are needed. See milky blue water running through dramatic gorge scenery as you cross a swingbridge extending across the river. The 15-minute walk to the swingbridge features lush native forest and various lookouts. Past the swingbridge, it’s a further five minutes to reach the riverbed.
Location: End of Kowhitirangi and Whitcombe Roads, 25km (15.5 miles) east of Hokitika
2. Watch the Sunset from Hokitika Beach
Time your visit to Hokitika Beach with the sunset to watch that famous West Coast sunset silhouetting the ever-changing driftwood artwork along the beach. The beach is easy to find, just head toward the waterfront.
Location: Hokitika town.
3. Visit Lake Mahinapua
Another great place to watch the sunset is across the placid waters of Lake Mahinapua. It’s a tranquil place to camp for the night. Alternatively, take advantage of the many walks available around the lake. The Jum Michel Track (20 minutes one way) is a pleasant forest walk on old sand dunes. The Mahianapua Walkway (2 hours one way) follows an old logging route through stunning West Coast forest. Find more walks in our 23 Unforgettable Walks in Hokitika.
Location: Shanghai Road, 11km (7 miles) south of Hokitika.
4. Go for a Walk at Lake Kaniere
Yes, there’s another picturesque lake worth checking out near Hokitika. In fact, many say that it is one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand and we have to agree. Surrounding by lush and ancient native forest, the area can be explored on hiking trails such as Lake Kaniere Walkway (4 hours one way) or the short walk to Dorothy Falls (2 minutes).
Location: Lake Kaniere Road, 19km (12 miles) east of Hokitika.
5. Watch the Master Carvers or Carve Your Own Greenstone
Hokitika is known as “Jade Country”, with the beach and rivers once rich in greenstone/pounamu. Carving greenstone is part of Maori tradition and you can watch the master carvers at work in jade studios around town, such as Mountain Jade, Heritage Jade and Traditional Jade. Take the experience a step further by carving your own jade pendant at Bonz N Stonz (16 Hamilton Street).
Location: Hokitika town.
6. Check Out the Art Galleries
As you might have guessed from the driftwood sculptures on the beach and the jade studios, Hokitika is a creative town. There are galleries for a wealth of art forms in Hokitika, from glass blowing at Hokitika Glass Studio to wood, stone, jade, gold and bone pieces at the Hokitika Craft Gallery.
Location: Hokitika town.
7. Visit the Hokitika Museum
Located in the historic Carnegie Building, the Hokitika Museum tells the stories of what was once New Zealand’s busiest port during the gold rush era. Learn about the region’s fascination for greenstone, see a giant Meccano dredge, learn about whitebaiting and much more. Chase more museums in the are with our 10 Interesting Museums on the West Coast.
Location: Corner of Tancred and Hamilton Streets.
8. See a Real Kiwi Bird
See New Zealand’s national icon in the special nocturnal house of The National Kiwi Centre. On top of that, you’ll see the living dinosaur called the tuatara and West Coast creatures like whitebait, crayfish, eels and more.
Location: 66 Tancred Street.
9. Do the Westcoast Treetop Walk
See the New Zealand forest from a whole new perspective on the Westcoast Treetop Walkway. Walk among the canopy of the trees on this 1,470ft (450m) raised walkway meandering through ancient rimu and kamahi trees. From the top of the Observation Tower, see Lake Mahinapua, the snowy Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea.
Location: Woodstock-Rimu Road, 17km (10.5 miles) south of Hokitika.
10. Do the West Coast Wilderness Trail
A scenic cycle trail runs through Hokitika, taking in some of the highlights of the West Coast region. The West Coast Wilderness Trail is a 4-day cycle trail. It’s an easy grade 2 trail between Greymouth and the town of Ross, just south of Hokitika. Either start your cycle journey from Hokitika or Ross. Learn more about it in our Mountain Biking on the West Coast.
Location: Ross, 26.5km (16 miles) south of Hokitika.