The Must-Dos in Hokitika!
Situated on the West Coast of the South Island is the cool little town of Hokitika. There’s more to this town than meets the eye, as it’s home to one of the best sunsets in New Zealand, greenstone carving, milky blue rivers and more walks than you can shake a rambling stick at! There are so many things to do in Hokitika, but if you have limited time here then these are the Hokitika must-dos you can’t miss.
1. Watch the Sunset from Hokitika Beach
If there’s only one place you’re going to watch the sunset in New Zealand, it has to be on Hokitika Beach. On a clear night, sunsets are fiery and vivid – a real spectacle of nature! What’s more, the Hokitika driftwood sign makes a great photo opportunity to go along with the sunset.
Location: Hokitika Beach, Beach Street.
2. Visit Hokitika Gorge
Another awesome spectacle of nature to enjoy any time of day is Hokitika Gorge. The milky blue waters contrasting with the lush green forest around it just doesn’t seem real yet, somehow it is! After a gravel road excursion, it’s just a 15-minute walk down to the river below the iconic Hokitika Gorge swing bridge! Take insect repellent if you plan to stay there a while. For more walks in and near Hokitika, check out 23 Unforgettable Walks in Hokitika.
Location: Hokitika Gorge is 33km (20.5 miles) out of Hokitika. Take the Kaniere Road which becomes the Kaniere-Kowhitirangi Road east of Hokitika. The road will turn to a gravel road where you’ll need to turn left into Johnston Road, right into Nielson Road, and left into Whitcombe Valley Road.
3. Carve Your Own Greenstone
Hokitika is also known as a “Jade Country” because of a great deal of jade/greenstone/pounamu that is found in the area. Not only can you watch master carvers at work in a number of greenstone stores in Hokitika (Heritage Jade and Traditional Jade), but you can also carve your own greenstone pendant with Bonz N Stonz or Lake Mahinapua Hotel. Have a look for greenstone on the beach to carve yourself (otherwise, carving studios have plenty of their own), and get some inspiration for your designs with this greenstone pendant guide.
Location: Bonz N Stonz – 16 Hamilton Street. Lake Mahinapua Hotel – Ruatapu Road, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Hokitika. Heritage Jade – 86 Revell Street. Traditional Jade – 2 Tancred Street.
4. Visit Lake Kaniere
Walking, camping, mountain biking or just plain old relaxing in a remarkable landscape: Lake Kaniere is a pristine dose of wilderness that you’re going to want to check out while in Hokitika. There are a number of short walks and day walks that we list in 23 Unforgettable Walks in Hokitika where you can get some stunning reflections on the lake. One more tip: this is another Hokitika location that looks wildly beautiful at sunset.
Location: Head east out of Hokitika on the Kaniere Road for 19km (12 miles). Where the road meets the lake you can either go right to Sunny Bight for some walks or left down Dorothy Falls Road toward a waterfall walk and campsite.
5. Walk the West Coast Treetop Walkway
So there are many walks in New Zealand (and many of which are free) but for a truly unique perspective of the New Zealand native forest, take the West Coast Treetop Walkway. A high-rise walkway loops around an ancient rainforest with opportunities to spot birdlife high in the forest canopy. You’ll also get some great views of the surrounding lakes and all the way out to the Tasman Sea from atop the 40m (130ft) tower! Find out more about the West Coast Treetop Walkway on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 17km (10.5 miles) from Hokitika. Take State Highway 6 south for about 15km (9 miles) then turn onto Woodstock-Rimu Road where the walkway is well signposted.
6. Check Out 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.
7. Be Inspired by Hokitika’s Art Galleries
As you might have guessed by 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. They are free to visit, so what have you got to lose?
Location: Hokitika Glass Studio – 9 Weld Street. Hokitika Craft Gallery – 25 Tancred Street.
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. 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 area with our 10 Interesting Museums on the West Coast.
Location: Corner of Tancred and Hamilton Streets.
10. Cycle 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.