One of the main towns on the West Coast of the South Island, Hokitika has a rich history in pounamu (greenstone) and gold. For hundreds of years this area was prized by Maori as the major source of pounamu or New Zealand jade which was used for weapons, tools and ornaments.
After the arrival of Europeans the region came to be known for its rich gold deposits which resulted in the influx of hundreds of miners all hoping to strike it lucky. Nowadays the town of approximately 4,000 residents is somewhat quieter. Nestled beside the roaring surf of the Tasman Sea the focus is now on the raw natural beauty of the rainforests and wetlands around the town.
Recommended visitor attractions and activities in Hokitika
Stroll the black sand and pebble beach and see what the ocean has delivered
Call into the many art and craft galleries and watch the artisans at work with pounamu, gold, glass, wood, rock, shells, fur, silk, silver and copper
Enjoy a fresh seafood feast
Learn the origins of the area in the beautifully restored Carnegie Building which houses the West Coast Historical Museum
What's your preferred level of activity?
Action adventure Red deer and chamois hunting; wild white water rafting; river kayaking; hiking routes across the Southern Alps; mountain climbing; deep sea fishing.
Moderate activities Carve your own taonga (treasure) from pounamu (jade), bone, or paua shell; fish for sea run or river trout; take a salt water fishing trip; bush walks; rafting on more placid rivers; quad biking; canoeing; sailing on Lake Kaniere.
Relaxing activities Hokitika Heritage Walk; National Kiwi Centre to see live Kiwi birds; flightseeing tours of the coast and Southern Alps including Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Mount Cook; visit the West Coast Historical Museum; scenic cruise to see the Hector’s dolphins and NZ fur seals.
Children and young families Paddle boat cruises on Lake Mahinapua and Creek; picnic on the beach; visit Shantytown, an 1880’s replica gold town and try your hand at gold panning; glow worm dell; Westland Waterworld acquarium.