Visit Hokitika, Westland, NZ

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  • Hokitika is known for its heritage and history, arts and outdoor adventure activities. Founded in 1864 during the Gold Rush era, it was one of New Zealand’s most populous settlements by 1886. Mining for gold and coal, as well as forestry, sustained the town for over 100 years until the industries declined.

    Many aspects of Hokitika’s heritage can be appreciated today: for example, by walking or cycling Hokitika’s heritage trail, or visiting the Ross River Goldfields Heritage Area, where it is possible to pan for gold.

    Hokitika is located near the Southern Alps – Mount Cook is visible from the town’s main street on a clear day. Many fast-flowing rivers meet the sea near the town, providing opportunities for white-water rafting and kayaking, fishing and fossicking for gold or greenstone.

    Accommodation in Hokitika (NZ)

    Hokitika has a good range of accommodation, from hotels and motels in the town centre to luxury lodges and boutique B&Bs in surrounding areas.

    There are several holiday parks and camping grounds that cater for motorhomes and campervans, as well as for backpackers.

    Also available are holiday homes for rent, or self-contained apartments.

    Transport around Hokitika

    Hokitika is located on State Highway 6, a well-sealed modern road, about 30 minutes’ drive south of Greymouth, which is 2.5 hours drive from Christchurch. To reach Hokitika from the south requires crossing the Southern Alps at Haast Pass, about 90 minute’s drive from Wanaka.

    Hokitika’s airport receives up to 5 flights per day from Christchurch.

    The TranzAlpine scenic railway from Christchurch to Greymouth is another, more leisurely transport option, which offers a stop-off at Lake Brunner. A shuttle to and from Hokitika connects with the train at Greymouth.

    Taxis and shuttles provide transport within and around Hokitika. Mountain bikes are available for rental, as well as classic sports cars.

    Tourist Activities around Hokitika

    Hokitika’s pioneer heritage, based around gold-mining and shipping, is interesting to explore. The Ross River Goldfield’s Heritage Area presents some of this history and offers visitors the chance to pan for gold.

    Another early industry was recovery and export of New Zealand’s sought-after nephrite jade, known locally as greenstone or pounamu. Several carving factory shops in the town are open to visitors, and offer them the chance to try carving in stone or bone for themselves.

    Hokitika is home to many artists working in paint, wood, metals and stone, making it a great place for art and craft gallery shopping. Several public art events are held each year on Hokitika’s main beach, including a driftwood sculpture competition open to the public.

    Hokitika is also famous within New Zealand for its Wild Food Festival, which draws many visitors in March each year. A wide range of local delicacies can be sampled, from wild boar and water buffalo products to “bush tucker”.

    There are many pleasant walks around Hokitika and along its main river, some of which can be cycled. These include Hokitika’s Heritage Trail and walks along gorges by the river, which can be fished.

    Rivers in the area have some of New Zealand’s best kayaking and white-water rafting runs. Tours are available that provide transport and equipment. Heli-rafting offers the chance to take on some of the most inaccessible rapids. Paddle-boat cruising is available at Mahinapua.

    Scenic flights from Hokitika Airport are a popular way to see the Southern Alps and South Westland.

    In an around the town are a number of attractions that can be enjoyed in poor weather, including a digital 3D cinema, located in a restored Art Deco theatre, paintball, cowboy/rodeo theme park, a vintage sock machine museum and a swimming pool complex.

    Hokitika has one of New Zealand’s only links golf courses. The coast also offers excellent surf-casting fishing for coastal species. Off-shore fishing charters are available from the harbour.

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