Lake Mahinapua, West Coast WIlderness Trail

A Travel Guide to Hokitika, New Zealand

Last Updated: 8th August, 2023

Welcome to my travel guide to the awesome little town of Hokitika, New Zealand! Hokitika is found on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand (what a mouthful!) and is the perfect place to base yourself during your West Coast adventure. In this post, i’ll give you a little run down on the best time to visit, how to get there, and what you should get up to when you get to Hokitika! Happy Travels!

Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika, New Zealand

If you are looking at planning a full West Coast roadie, then I can help you out! Check out my West Coast Travel Guide for an overview of the spectacular West Coast, and also my guide for Things to Do in Punakaiki! Punakaiki is only an hours drive north of Hokitika, and would be the perfect next stop on your travels!

Where is Hokitika?

Hokitika is a small coastal town found on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island! It is an awesome base to stay at while exploring the West Coast, as it is centrally located to all the attractions this region has to offer! It is around an hours drive south from Punakaiki and the famous Pancake Rocks, an hour from the alpine grandeur of Arthurs Pass, and an hour and a half north from the incredible Franz Josef Glacier!

Map of Hokitika, New Zealand

What is the best time to visit Hokitika?

The best time of year to visit Hokitika and the West Coast is during late Summer and early Autumn months (February – April). During this time the weather is generally warm, with temperatures ranging from 11° – 20°. These are also some of the driest months on the West Coast, although still expect to get wet! The best part about this time of year is that there are a lot less tourists that during the peak summer months, making it a more peaceful and enjoyable experience.

Hokitika Beach at Sunset, Hokitika, New Zealand

How to get to Hokitika, New Zealand

By Car:

If you are travelling from the major South Island city of Christchurch, getting to Hokitika by car is a breeze! There is a relatively straightforward (but pretty winding!) State Highway 73 that travels through the Southern Alps, connecting Christchurch to the West Coast. Although you are travelling the full width of New Zealand’s South Island, the journey is only 250km, and will take around 3.5 hours!

By Bus:

From Christchurch, you can take a long distance bus that will carry you through Arthur’s Pass to the West Coast! Atomic Shuttles connect Christchurch to either Hokitika or Greymouth on the West Coast, and run services on Fridays – Mondays.

By Train!

If you are looking to make you’re trip to the West Coast an adventure in itself, then you should check out the TranzAlpine! This incredible train journey carries you in style through the ‘Great Divide’ of the Southern Alps, admiring the constantly-changing scenery from the patchwork paddocks of the Canturbury Plains, through the soaring, snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, and out onto the rugged and wild coastline of the West Coast. This train runs between Christchurch and Greymouth, taking around 5 hours. From here, you can spend a day or two exploring Greymouth, before hopping onto an InterCity Bus service that will carry you down to Hokitika!

Train to Hokitika, New Zealand

Best Things to Do in Hokitika!

To see a more detailed list of the best things to do in Hokitika, check out my post here! 🙂

1. Explore Hokitika’s Natural Wonders

The Stunning Beaches of Hokitika

Hokitika is a charming coastal town, nestled in between the vivid-blue Hokitika River and the wild Tasman Sea. Only a short walk from the heart of Hokitika township is the stunning Hokitika Beach, which is a relaxing place to spend a sunny day beachcombing and picnic-ing! This beach is known for it’s creative flair, with artists creating sculptures out of the driftwood that floats up onto the beach – this will definitely make a great photo for your insta!

Hokitika, New Zealand

The West Coast of New Zealand is also known for it’s brilliant, fiery sunsets, and where better to watch them than at Sunset Point on Hokitika Beach! As the sun dips below the horizon, the silhouettes of driftwood sculptures create an incredible scene.

Hokitika beach, Hokitika, New Zealand

Witness the dramatic Hokitika Gorge

One of the most popular destinations in Hokitika is the stunning Hokitika Gorge. This is a perfect step into the wild West Coast nature, with a short walk through native rainforest taking you to the heart of the gorge. This is an incredible experience, witnessing vivid turquoise waters rushing through the moss-covered rocks of the gorge from up high on a suspension bridge.

Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika, New Zealand

Visit the peaceful Lakes around Hokitika

Close to Hokitika are not one, but two tranquil lakes that are fantastic to visit while you are exploring this area. Just south of Hokitika is the beautiful Lake Mahinapua, a stunning Scenic Reserve with good picnic spots, easy walking tracks and an awesome nearby cycling trail through the forest that connects Hokitika and the lake!

If you feel like heading inland, the secluded Lake Kaniere mirrors the majesty of the surrounding Southern Alps, offering opportunities for kayaking, hiking along the lake’s edge, and swimming in waterfalls surrounded by dense native forest.

2. Immerse yourself into the local culture!

Discover Hokitika’s Vibrant Arts Scene

Hokitika is renowned for it’s thriving arts and crafts scene, which is evident as you wander through the town. From incredible art galleries showcasing local talent, experienced artisans carving greenstone (Pounamu) or bone into intricate pieces of jewelry, or glass blowers fashioning delicate sculptures out of molten glass, there is always something amazing to see! Explore local workshops and studios to witness the process firsthand and even try your hand at crafting your own unique piece.

Glass blowing, Hokitika. New Zealand

Experience the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival

Indulge your taste buds and join in the festivities at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, an annual culinary extravaganza celebrating the region’s wild and unique flavors. Sample exotic delicacies like whitebait fritters, huhu grubs, and venison sausages, all while enjoying live entertainment and a vibrant atmosphere that captures the spirit of Hokitika’s community.

The Hokitika Wild foods Festival is one of the coolest festivals on the West Coast, combining entertainment and fantastic local beers and wines with some wildly exciting (and mostly delicious) grub! This festival is held in March each year.

3. Learn about Hokitika’s History

Hokitika’s Gold Rush Heritage

Hokitika’s Gold Rush Heritage is a captivating journey back in time to the 19th century, when this small town on New Zealand’s West Coast experienced a surge of excitement, hope, and ambition driven by the allure of gold. The echoes of those transformative years still resonate through Hokitika’s streets, buildings, and stories, offering visitors a chance to step into the shoes of those who once sought their fortunes in the rugged hills and rushing rivers.

Wandering through Hokitika’s historic streets, you can see a few of the charming buildings that come from the bustling era of the gold rush. The Carnegie Building stands tall as a reminder of the town’s prosperous past, once serving as a library and reading room for the community.

Learning about Hokitika’s Gold Rush Heritage:
  1. Hokitika Museum: The Hokitika Museum is a treasure trove of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that offer a comprehensive look at the gold rush era. Explore intricate displays showcasing the tools of the trade, personal accounts of miners, and the impact of the gold rush on Hokitika’s growth and development.
  2. Guided Heritage Tours: Joining a guided heritage tour is an immersive way to delve into Hokitika’s gold rush history. The Hokitika History Walk with Ann runs over 1.5 hours, and she’ll take you to view the incredible building the Gold Rush created, as well as telling stories about how life was back then during the gold rush years in the 1860’s. For this guided tour, email Ann:, or book via the Hokitika i-site!

Best Cafes and Restaurants in Hokitika

Once you have done exploring, you’ll need some good hearty food! Luckily, Hokitika has an awesome number of cosy cafes and delicious restaurants for you to enjoy!

1. Fat Pipi Pizza | Pizza Restaurant

This vibrant pizzeria brings a slice of Italy to Hokitika. Indulge in wood-fired pizzas made with hand-stretched dough and topped with a variety of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make it a favorite spot for both locals and visitors.

2. Stumpers | Bar and Cafe

Nestled in a historic building, Stumpers offers a warm and inviting ambiance. Enjoy hearty breakfasts, gourmet burgers, and a range of New Zealand classics. With its central location and relaxed vibe, it’s an ideal spot to refuel after exploring Hokitika’s attractions.

3. Stations Inn | Restaurant and Bar

This is perfect if you are looking for an elegant and sophisticated restaurant in Hokitika! Serving award-winning local cuisine, complemented with an excellent selection of quality New Zealand wines and craft beers, it offers an incredible dining experience.

4. Hokitika Sandwich Company

As the name suggests, this cozy eatery specializes in crafting mouthwatering sandwiches filled with locally sourced ingredients. From classic combinations to inventive creations, their sandwiches are a hit among both locals and tourists seeking a quick and satisfying meal.

5. Ocean View Restaurant

For those seeking seaside dining, the Ocean View Restaurant offers stunning ocean views and a menu showcasing fresh seafood and regional specialties. Whether you’re savoring a seafood platter or enjoying a hearty steak, the ambiance adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your meal.

View from hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand

6. Clock Tower Cafe

This cafe is located right in the heart of Hokitika, opposite the historic Town Clock. It is a fantastic cafe, known for their awesome coffee, classic New Zealand pies, and gluten free and homemade options! This is a great spot to stop during your explore around Hokitika town.

Where to Stay in Hokitika

Hokitika offers a range of accommodations that cater to every traveler’s preferences and budget. From budget-conscious hotels and campgrounds and family-friendly apartments to luxury hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, there is something for everyone!

Luxury Hotels in Hokitika

If you are looking for a little touch of luxury during your stay in Hokitika, then you are in luck! Hokitika is home to a number of Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts that promise to make your stay on the West Coast nothing short of exceptional! Whether you are looking for stunning ocean views, unique historical atmosphere, or secluded countryside charm, then there is accommodation to suit.

Budget-Friendly Accommodation in Hokitika

For travelers seeking a wallet-friendly yet cozy stay in the charming town of Hokitika, there are a variety of budget accommodation options that provide comfort without breaking the bank. Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or as a family, these accommodations provide a welcoming retreat after a day of exploring Hokitika’s natural beauty and cultural attractions.

Hello my lovelies! Thank you for reading, and I hope this post gives you an awesome little overview of one of the coolest towns on the West Coast! I’ve only visited it once, but loved it so much and cannot wait to go back!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *