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Travel Guide

Hokitika what to see and where to go

  • 3 minutes

Hokitika guide to best things to do

A COOL LITTLE TOWN has it all from great coffee, cafes, shopping for pounamu creations, a waterproof jacket to spectacular scenery at its doorstep. The dramatic beach with the well known driftwood signage is fun. There are wild westie rivers, mountains and two glorious deep inky lakes to explore. The place is a tourist hub with excellent galleries, shops and creative places to indulge in some retail therapy.

Hokitika iconic driftwood place name complete with concrete sofa, New Zealand Hokitika iconic driftwood place name complete with concrete sofa


December to late March


  • National Kiwi Centre where the rarest kiwi is safe, West Coast kiw there are an estimated 345 birds in the wild.
  • Hokitika Gorge walk, it is very short with a swing bridge and extraordinary coloured water
  • Collect driftwood and create your own impromptu art installation complete with selfie
  • Selfie with clock tower in background, and don’t try to jump into the middle of the road
  • It’s raining, purchase wet weather gear in the town that specialises insuring visitors are well catered for


  • Driftwood festival
  • Wild Foods festival

The wild foods festival is a social media delight with nose to tail cooking a compulsory part of the menu. The specials have featured huhu grubs (beetles), sheeps brains, earthworms and stallion semen to name a few ingredients. Definitely out of most people’s comfort zones and makes for great youtube clips.




The Arahura River estuary is north of Hokitika and is a well known source of pounamu (jade). Gold jewellers, wood turners and potters have open studios. Spend time, walk around the compact town and observe what takes your breath away. Polish your pounamu (jade) at a workshop.

Wilderness photography studio / gallery and shop displays award winning landscape photographs, fine art objects and painting. There is a gift for all budgets and tastes.

Hokitika Glass Studio, Designer Art Forms has the adorable glass penguins that are very tempting. Cuteness in beautifully blown glass. The family owned business has an open studio. Enjoy the display of heated glass, fire and creativity while choosing a gift for yourself or family and friends.


Hokitika is a compact town, with flat, easy pavements. The river port town’s heritage sites are clearly marked with information plaques.


  • Former Government buildings + Seddon Statute
  • Hokitika Clock Tower
  • Hokitika former courthouse
  • Hokitika Regent Cinema ART DECO STYLE

For heritage buffs allow up to an hour wandering around town identifying buildings. Check the travel pack section for location details and a list of heritage sites, buildings and statues.

Hokitika's clock tower, West Coast, New Zealand
Hokitika's clock tower
New Zealand glowworms in Hokitika
New Zealand glowworms in Hokitika


The museum is a repository of materials on the gold rush era, whitebait industry, narratives about settlement. Currently under storage due to earthquake strengthening of the Carnegie building it is housed in.


A popular visitor attraction with free entrance, and being very close to town (10 minutes walk) the 50 metre track leads to a glow worm dell.


State Highway 6, northern entrance to Hokitika. The Dell is well signposted and there is parking. The Dell is wheelchair accessible.

Hokitika Golf Club – Mahinapua Links, Hokitika is beautiful with the sound of the sea, views of the Southern Alps and lack of crowded courses.


Beautiful refurbished Art Deco Theatre and Cafe. See all the latest movies on the Big Screen with the latest digital projection technology and surround sound. Check Hokitika’s Regent Theatre – movie times & tickets for movie session times, live shows, other events and online bookings.


The sea’s bounty is driftwood and the town celebrates with a quirky town sign. There is a festival promoting driftwood as a material for all things creative. A great photo location for sunsets. The town has built a great walkway so you don’t even need to get sandy feet.

Hokitika sand beach, Southland, New Zealand
Hokitika sand beach
Hokitika Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand. Beautiful nature with blueturquoise color water and wooden swing bridge.
Hokitika Gorge


A very short 15 minute bush that punches above its weight for charm

  • Beautiful bush
  • Swing bridge
  • Rocky boulders for the perfect selfie
  • Cobalt blue, (glacial rock flour) water that defies colour matching

This very popular tourist walk has been definitively described by DOC Hokitika Gorge Walk: Hokitika Gorge Scenic Reserve, West Coast region. Check for walking times and description of what you will see at the Hokitika Gorge.


Deep intense reflective navy waters, a popular Department of Conservation campground, picnic tables, toilets and walks. There is even a mountain bike trail from to rugged Mount Tuhua 7 hour ascent. Lake Kaniere walks include: Canoe Cove leads through thick stands of rimu and kahikatea to a sandy beach and Dorothy Waterfalls, a waterfall that is visible within 2 minutes.

  • Kahikatea swamp trees
  • Dorothy Waterfalls
  • Mountain bike trails
  • Easy short walks for little legs

For more information check Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve: Places to go in the West Coast

Lake Kaniere, New Zealand @Mike Dickison
Lake Kaniere @Mike Dickison
Wooden jetty bridge at Lake Mahinapua, a shallow lake on the West Coast of The South Island, New Zealand. It is roughly 10km south of Hokitika and near the small town of Ruatapu.
Wooden jetty bridge at Lake Mahinapua, Hokitika


On the doorstep of Hokitika the Mananui tramline walk is popular. You follow an old logging tramline. The walk has a boardwalk floating across wetlands, threads through regenerating forest and remnants of a former sawmill. The walk is buggy friendly and the loop track finishes at a small lakeside beach. See the scenic waterways from a double decker motorised pontoon. The awkward shape belies the sheer pleasure from being up close to the landscape. It is a highlight for any West Coast holiday silently gliding through the dense inky waters past gold mining and saw milling trails and listening to the bird song. The ‘Eco Adventurer offers a BYO sunset cruise, kayak hire and transportation for cyclists. West Coast Scenic Waterways is fun for all age groups.

For walking track details check DOC Mahinapua Scenic Reserve: Hokitika area places to visit


Mature trees give the canopy walk a sense of being above the treetops. The walkway is 450 m with heights of 20 metres. The spiral staircase, at 47 m height is a dizzy circular staircase that takes you to even greater heights. The al fresco cafe is nestled in the bush. The polished stainless steel feels and looks very sturdy with high barriers so there is no chance of daredevil kids antics.  Enjoy the views of Lake Mahinapua, the Tasman Sea and the forest layers.


Parts of the walk are wheelchair accessible.


Visitors can catch a close up look at kiws, tuatara (mini dinosaur), and giant eels. The Centre is conveniently located in the centre of town meaning getting there is not an issue. Feeding times are 10:00 am, 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm every day. There is an entry fee.



West Coast Mountain Bike Club has got visitors sorted at Blue Spur Forest. All are within easy biking distance of Hokitika township. Information on these tracks and the maps are available at Hokitika Cycles & Sportsworld – Fishing, Camping

  • Fully equipped Bike repair workshop with certified Shimano bike mechanic.
  • Top Quality bike hire, both hardtails and E-bikes.
  • Information, maps and knowledge about the West Coast Wilderness Trail and local single tracks

West Coast Wilderness Trail links Hokitika to Greymouth and Ross. If you don’t feel like a multiple day bike trip, cycle out to Lake Mahinapua. A choice of bike hire encourages visitors to give cycling a go. Shuttle services are available for the entire 139 km trail.


Hokitika has a domestic airport. The town is a major network hub for Coasters and visitors alike. There is an intercity bus service, local shutter services and rental vehicle and bike companies


Cycle or drive is the best option due to the lack of transport infrastructure between attractions.


Heritage places and buildings

And churches with category II status St Andrews United Church, All Saints Church plus, Former Bank of New Zealand, Former Bank of New South Wales. Out of town is the Mahinapua Creek Railway Bridge with its category I status.



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