Hokitika – famous for its natural beauty and Pounamu (greenstone). It’s located on the West Coast of New Zealand, right next to the Hokitika River, facing the coast of the Tasman Sea. Are you a traveller who’s looking to immerse in the wilderness? Who’d love the idea of staying in a cool little town with chill vibes while having plenty of opportunities to get lost in nature (not literally, of course) –then Hokitika is where you’re headed. Here’s a look at some of the best things to do in Hokitika!
Table of Contents
- 1 Cycle through the magical West Coast Wilderness Trail
- 2 Immerse in natural beauty during the Hokitika Gorge Walk
- 3 Enjoy treetop adventures at Westcoast Treetop Walk & Café
- 4 A not-so-typical visit to the Hokitika Beach
- 5 Visit the dazzling Wilderness Gallery
- 6 Dip your feet at the Dorothy Falls
- 7 Feed giant eels at the National Kiwi Centre
- 8 Have a picnic at the Lake Mahinapua
- 9 Camp near the striking Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve
- 10 Visit the Hokitika I-SITE Visitor Information Centre
- 11 Travel to the past at the Hokitika Museum
- 12 Explore the Westland Industrial Heritage Park
- 13 Enjoy the ethereal effects at the Glow Worm Dell
- 14 Take a scenic flight over the Glaciers & Mount Cook
- 15 Get lost in nature at the Tunnel Terrace Walk
Cycle through the magical West Coast Wilderness Trail
Embark on a 132 km cycle trail to explore some of the most scenic and diverse wilderness trails the West Coast – South Island has to offer. The whole path can take about 4 days – with options to do shorter multi-day rides. There’re several route options available from Hokitika to choose from as well. ‘Magical’ is the word many use to describe this experience, and it’s considered to be the best way to introduce Hokitika and the beauty of the West Coast to any traveller.
Immerse in natural beauty during the Hokitika Gorge Walk
Just 33 km from Hokitika – here’s another gem of the West Coast worth exploring. Don’t worry much about the trail to the Gorge – it’s an easy walk. Immerse in everything green and beautiful while getting glimpses of the flowing blue beauty as you make your way to the rocky Gorge. There you’ll be rewarded with the most breathtaking views of the blue river from the swing bridge. The beautiful blues really come out on a sunny day. Just stunning!
Enjoy treetop adventures at Westcoast Treetop Walk & Café
Located approx. 15 minutes from the town, this treetop adventure is a must-add to your list of things to do in Hokitika. The trails are not on the ground. Walk on the perfectly safe steel platforms that are 20 meters high above to explore the beauty of the rainforest canopy. Observe incredible bird life up close. Then climb the tower to witness the most incredible views of the large ancient forest. Which includes scenes of Lake Mahinapua, the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea!
A not-so-typical visit to the Hokitika Beach
This unique beach coast can be found 10 minutes from Hokitika. The waves can get very rough, so not suitable for a dip. Enjoy long beach walks, check out the iconic Hokitika sign and other driftwood sculptures. Maybe even a pick a pounamu buried in the greyish sandy shores. Witness a magical sunrise. If it’s sunny, maybe even do a picnic. Exploring the Hokitika Beach on the Wild West Coast is a definite add-on to your list of things to do in Hokitika.
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Visit the dazzling Wilderness Gallery
This award-winning gallery is less than 10 minutes away from the beautiful Hokitika Beach Coast in the heart of the town. It is basically a lovely collection of wildlife and landscape photographs beautifully displayed amongst other giftware collections that come in the form of Jewellery – especially in jade (Pounamu), woodware, pottery, bronze and more. The collections boast of being made 100% in New Zealand. Take your time to absorb the beautiful exhibits, and maybe purchase something to take back home.
Dip your feet at the Dorothy Falls
This multi-step waterfall is located near Lake Kaniere, just less than 40-minutes away from Hokitika. If it’s raining and you’re not in the mood for a hike, then you can just enjoy the cascading falls from the car park. But a closer approach can help you witness the beauty better. The waterfall is easy to find. You can dip your feet in the plunge pool waters – which is very chilly and clear. It’s also ideal for capturing stunning nature photographs.
Feed giant eels at the National Kiwi Centre
You’ll find this nocturnal kiwi house in the heart of the town. Ideal place for some fun family activities. During this visit, you’ll see exciting wildlife like Kiwis, Giant Eels (approx. 85-100 years old), all types of fish, tuataras and more. Visit during the feeding times (10 a.m. 12 noon, and 3 p.m. daily) to see a lot and learn a lot and even feed the eels! Definitely, a must add to your list of things to do in Hokitika.
Have a picnic at the Lake Mahinapua
This lake’s located close to the Westcoast Treetop Walk – and a 10-minute drive from Hokitika. The now-lake used to be a lagoon to the Hokitika River till it changed its course. Stunning lakes are part of the Hokitika charm – and Lake Mahinapua is definitely one of them. Quaint and scenic. Perfect for a picnic near the lake – on a sunny day that is. Camping is also something you can enjoy here. It’s an easy drive to the lake edge as well.
Camp near the striking Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve
Lake Kaniere is another stunning gem of the West Coast, South Island – located less than 30 minutes from the small town of Hokitika. Surrounded by flourishing forests, the lake shore’s ideal for families to come and enjoy a summer camp next to this gorgeous Lake. You can do the Canoe Cove walk, which takes you to the lake edge or even go around the Lake and onto the water Race walkway. Much to see. A lot to enjoy.
Visit the Hokitika I-SITE Visitor Information Centre
Nestled smack bang in the heart of this small town – It’s where you pop in to get some travel information and advice from the knowledgeable support staff. Get new suggestions, travel updates, the best places to visit given the season, how to make the most of your explorations across the west coast of the South Island. Just a quick visit is a good addition to your list of things to do in Hokitika.
Travel to the past at the Hokitika Museum
Expected to be opened up back in 2022, this museum is located at the centre of the town, next to the Wilderness Gallery and the Visitor Centre. The Design of the museum edifice alone can be quite something to see. Learn about the fascinating history of Hokitika and the influence it had On the West Coast, South Island. The extensive collection of treasures and artefacts belonging to Westland. The audiovisuals are a great way to keep the viewing interactive. It’s like taking a walk through time.
Explore the Westland Industrial Heritage Park
Just a 5-minute drive from the bustling town of Hokitika, It’s where you get to walk through the West Coast industrial history. Explore the many exhibits on display in this unique heritage park – from saw-milling and mining engines, historic boats, horse and steam-drawn vehicles and even games to keep the visitors on their toes! Friendly staff and super cool vintage machinery – there’s even a stagecoach which was used in Christchurch and the West Coast (during the gold rush).
Enjoy the ethereal effects at the Glow Worm Dell
Just minutes off the main road, next to the town of Hokitika – you will find the Glow Worm Dell homing heaps of glow worms. Now if you are expecting a Pandora world kind of effect –then you are going to end up feeling more than disappointed. But there is an enchanting wonder to discover. Once you spot the beautiful blue glow emitting from the rock surfaces, it’ll mesmerise you to no end. Best to visit at night to witness the proper effect.
Take a scenic flight over the Glaciers & Mount Cook
Make your Hokitika holiday magically unforgettable. You can book a day-tour, which starts from south Hokitika. Fly over the native forest and the verdant landscapes to get to the glacier viewing platform. You can do a tour of the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier. You will never forget the snow landing with a close-up view of the majestic Mount Cook.
Get lost in nature at the Tunnel Terrace Walk
Less than 15 minutes to the north Hokitika – moving away from the coast is another breathtakingly lush nature trail. The area can be accessed through a short tunnel, and then it’s followed by a quaint little walking track accompanied by wet gullies high and stone walls. You’ll have surprise visits from different birds too. It’s a short walk that makes you feel like you are miles away from civilization, and it’s absolutely worth the experience.