Hokitika travel guide the best bits
Hokitika is a COOL LITTLE town with plenty to do and see. Sip great coffee from the local cafes, shop for pounamu creations or places to see from the spectacular scenic Hokitika Gorge to the beautiful Lake Kaniere. All sights are at Hokitika’s doorstep. The dramatic Hokitika 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. Raining? Purchase a waterproof jacket from the many shops while browsing in Hokitika’s galleries.
BEST TIME TO GO
December to late March with comfortable summers. The range is between 18c – 22c. Average rainfall in a month is 11 days with up to 15 days in winter. The average temperature in winter is 6c – 12c. The West Coast is considered one of the wettest regions in New Zealand.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN HOKITIKA, WEST COAST
Here are the best bits of Hokitika from things to do outdoors, where to go to find pounamu and top sights that are must-do for Hokitika visitors.
- National Kiwi Centre where the rarest kiwi is safe, West Coast kiwi there are an estimated 345 birds in the wild. A must-go attraction for anyone interested in observing a kiwi with a guaranteed sighting of this elusive bird
- Hokitika Gorge walk is a very short walk with a suspension bridge(s) and extraordinary coloured water. A must-go place for the scenery with surging glacial sky blue water and rock gorge surfaces smoothed by eons of water erosion.
- Hokitika beach, collect driftwood and create your own impromptu art installation complete with selfie. This is sheer fun and there is a very wide boardwalk ensuring you can watch the action from a seat nearby
- Selfie with Hokitika clock tower in the background, and don’t try to jump into the middle of the road. Heritage Hokitka has plenty to offer visitors interested in 19th century gold mining stories
- West Coast weather, it’s raining, purchase wet weather gear in the town that specialises insuring visitors are well catered for and remember to check out the galleries, shops and studios for arty crafty objects created by locals inspired by their landscapes
- Enjoy exotic foodie treats at the Hokitika Wild Food Festival
- Shopping for pounamu (jade) decorative objects is a must-do
- Delve into Hokitika’s past and enjoy a self-guided heritage trail around the cool little town
- Explore Lake Mahinapua with West Coast Scenic Waterways. Bird watching, fascinating wetlands are part of the guided pontoon tour. West Coast Scenic Waterways will transport bikes to various trail exit/entrance points on shared cycle / walking tracks
- Go fossicking with the locals, hear stories about the cultural importance of of pounamu (jade)
HOKITIKA, WEST COAST FESTIVALS
Hokitika celebrates the summer with its well attended beach festival. Creative talent from kids to all age groups work side by side with professionals, turning driftwood and other debris into sculptural pieces. The beach is a rich resource for art-making materials and during the festival it becomes a gallery of weird and wonderful creations.
A must-go attraction is the Wild Foods Festival. The Hokitika 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. And the best bits are the Feral Fashion competition and people watching as they gingerly take the first bite or two.
- A COOL LITTLE TOWN sums up Hokitika, a hospitality hotspot whose aim is to guarantee visitors a good time.
Top picks for families & friends in Hokitika
Find places to go from the strikingly beautiful Hokitika Gorge to quietly glorious lakes where swimming, boating and recreational water sports flourish. Things to do include an exhilarating tree top climb into the forest canopy or viewing the rare West Coast kiwi.learn more
The Arahura River estuary, north of Hokitika 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.
Enjoy golf? Check out the Mahinapua Links Golf Course.
Hokitika Golf Club – Mahinapua Links, Hokitika is beautiful with the sound of the sea, views of the Southern Alps and lack of crowded courses.
HOKITIKA HERITAGE TRAIL
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.
Heritage places and buildings
TIP A great photo moment / selfie Gibson Point or Sunset Point. With fish n chips in hand watch the sunset set on surfers and beachcombers wandering the shoreline.
Hokitika Museumlearn more
Seddon Statuelearn more
Hokitika Regent Theatre & Cinemalearn more
Hokitika Cemeterylearn more
Seaview Lighthouselearn more
Hokitika Customhouselearn more
Okitiki buildinglearn more
Former Government Houselearn more
Totalisator Buildinglearn more
Carnegie Buildinglearn more
Hokitika Clock Towerlearn more
St Mary’s Catholic Churchlearn more
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.
HOKITIKA 6 THINGS TO DO ON A RAINY DAY(S)
Undoubtedly the West Coast is rainy with a minimum precipitation of 11 days in a month. The bonus is lush, beautiful temperate rainforest and the sandflies don’t like rainy weather. Invest in a light waterproof layer and enjoy the outdoors misty and softened landscapes blurred by rain. Indoors there are several options.
- HOKITIKA REGENT CINEMA
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.
- WESTLAND INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE PARK, HOKITIKA
Westland Industrial Heritage Park – Speciality Museum for loves of machinery, parts and how the world hums. Fire Engines in working order, sawmilling and mining engines, steam and horse-drawn vehicles and historic Boats.
- Check opening hours beforehand to avoid disappointment. See what happens to rusty relics when dedicated volunteers ensure heritage machinery is not lost to history.
Has a bush railway complete with working bushtrain usually running on Saturday. The site we now occupy was originally a Ministry of Works depot. It was made available by the Westland District.
Feel crafty after browsing shops stocked with the local creative talent then Sock World is the place to start your own creative story.
- There is a fascinating collection of old and vintage knitting machines, and accessories. There are manuals and even the possibility of the vintage machinery being switched on.
- The extensive museum and shop is packed with craft goods from knitting wools, silks and cotton. Macrame supplies, cross-stitch kits, diamond dotz kits.
- It is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon even if it is not raining. For visitors who would love an original knitted scarf or clothing the shop has plenty of goods to inspire you to open your wallet.
- NATIONAL KIWI CENTRE, HOKITIKA
Find and locate the national bird of New Zealand, the kiwi and feed eels.
- The best bit is you are guaranteed to view a kiwi.
- There are three feeding times for the enormous fat eels lazily swimming in their comfortable watery world. The eels are approximately 85 to 100 years old. The kiwi also gets fed after each eel feeding
- Accessible and easy to find being situated in the heart of Hokitika
- Catch and release a koura (crayfish) with a crawly catching certificate issued afterwards
- Observe New Zealand’s living dinosaur the tuatara lizard
A classic rainy day activity in Hokitika. The cool little town is definitely a place to indulge in your holiday shopping plans. There are many galleries showcasing incredible photography, pounamu/jade carvings, paintings, jewelry, weaving and New Zealand made clothing for adults and children/babies.
- CAFES – RAIN OR SHINE PLENTY OF CHOICE IN HOKITIKA
Taste Hokitika local delicacies from whitebait fritters, crayfish and seafood delights together with locally made fudge and ice cream.
- Hokitika Sandwich Company is the perfect choice for busy holiday makers. Grab a hearty filled sandwich with its farm to plate ingredients and get going outdoors. For visitors who have not yet sampled a kiwi milkshake this is the place to go with Lewis Rd ice cream a core ingredient in the decadently rich concoction.
TIP: High quality packed lunches available for pre-order
- Fat Pipi Pizza, Kitchen, nothing like wood fired fresh pizza with your choice of toppings
- Woodstock Hotel for couples looking for a brewpub, accommodation and Restaurant on the outskirts of Hokitika you can’t go wrong with the Woodstock Hotel. The Woodstock Brewing Co. produces a range of beers and ciders all small batch brewed from their own brew rooms here @The Woody. There is live music on the weekend.
- Stumpers Bar and Café is a full service hotel offering Hokitika accommodation and dining, and in the heart of the town centre.
- Stella Cafe is close to the beach offering coffee, loose leaf teas and a wide variety of counter food as well as a classic cafe menu. The cafe is licensed to sell wine, beer and cider from around New Zealand.
- Stone Oven Bakery / Cafe, classic New Zealand cafe menu
- Kitchen Hokitika offers a lunch and dinner menu with an emphasis on fusion pacific / asian food preparation
- Korath Thai Cuisine, a touch of Thai is a local favourite
- Sweet tooth anyone then head to BOX OF DELIGHTS or SWEET ALICES
Raining in Hokitika
Of course, you can also do what the locals do, pop on a waterproof layer, go outside and see all things you had wanted to see.
South Westland Salmon. Farms
South Westland Salmon has an all day menu. The counter offerings are extensive with homemade sandwiches, cakes, slices, biscuits, muffins and scones made fresh each day. We also offer a great selection of hot drinks plus wine, beer and fruit juices from the fridge. Location Paringa
- 2 hours from Hokitika
MOUNTAIN BIKE FANS
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 WHERE TO STAY
Hokitika is centrally located for visitors who wish to explore Greymouth, Glacier Country and the charms of a cool little town, Hokitika. For visitors interested in the West Coast, Denniston Plateau, Karamea Westport is a better option. Ideally your holiday allows for several days in all three locations, Westport (Karamea), Greymouth and Glacier Country.
- MOUNTAIN JADE BACKPACKERS, superb location offering a range of accommodation from dorm rooms to shared facility doubles.
- BEACHSIDE MOTELS AND HOLIDAY PARK HOKITIKA, motorhome sites, powered and non-powered sites and ensuite budget cabins
- BIRDSONG BACKPACKERS HOSTEL is the budget top pick with outstanding facilities and well-maintained premises.
- HOKITIKA FIRE STATION built 1866 now funky motel style accommodation. A top pick for Hokitika
- SHINING STAR BEACHFRONT MOTEL, standard mid range accommodation
- STUMPERS, centrally located with popular cafe onsite
- WOODSTOCK HOTEL, a classic brewpub with live music weekends
- BEACHFRONT HOTEL, superb location for views of Hokitika beach
- TEICHELMANN’S BED AND BREAKFAST is a cute historic home now a gracefully restored B&B with every room ensuite.
- STATION INN HOKITIKA is set on an elevated terrace amid pristine countryside, Stations Inn offers 4-star plus luxury accommodation and an award winning restaurant. Stations Inn was re-established in 2004 by Hugh and Glenda Little on an historic site in the Blue Spur goldfields.
For more information about the West Coast, check out West Coast Travel Guide.
Hokitika has a domestic airport. The town is a major network hub for Coasters and visitors alike. The domestic airport has a regular service with Christchurch.
There is an intercity bus service departing from the visitor centre. The Hokitika to Greymouth service is 45 minutes. Nelson city is seven hours and Franz Josef Glacier is two hours travelling time by intercity bus.
EAST WEST BUS SERVICE
An excellent connection to and from Christchurch to the West Coast with various stops on the Coast, including Hokitika.
Cycle or drive is the best option due to the lack of transport. For attractions in the cool little town walking is recommended. Hokitika has a compact town centre.
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
Insect repellent is necessary as the swarms of black clouds of sandflies is known to cause acute discomfort to holiday makers. Repellent such as deet can be effective, but many people don’t like using it. There are numerous natural remedies available. Sandflies do not like wind, smoke and rain. Sandflies are most numerous during daybreak and dusk in humid, overcast conditions, just before it rains.
The West Coast of the South Island, particularly Fiordland, is notorious for New Zealand’s biting insects.
When do sandflies bite?
Sandflies cannot see at night, so they seldom bite in the dark, and generally remain outdoors. Peaks in biting often occur when light intensity increases in the morning and decreases at dusk. The morning peak comes from young sandflies that have recently emerged from pupae, and the higher evening peak is often the result of sandflies taking blood after laying eggs earlier in the day.
Sandflies are most active in dull, overcast and humid conditions, when they may bite at a similar rate throughout the day.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE.