Hokitika West Coast Treetop walkway, Things to do in Hokitika, New Zealand

The Coolest Things to Do in Hokitika, New Zealand!

Last Updated: 15th August, 2023

Found on the wild West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Hokitika is a tiny town with a big heart. We have always passed through Hokitika briefly during our West Coast road trips, and finally found the opportunity to stop and stay for a few days. And my goodness, did I fall in love! This town has everything – an incredible beach, friendly locals, heaps of awesome art galleries and shops to explore, and so many stunning attractions close to town! Here are a few of my favourite things to do in Hokitika, so hopefully you fall in love with this area like we did.

Hokitika Gorge, things to do in Hokitika, New Zealand

If you’re planning an unforgettable trip to Hokitika, you won’t want to miss out on our handpicked selection of the best hotels in the area. Our ‘Best Hotels in Hokitika‘ post showcases top-notch accommodations that cater to various preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking a cozy boutique stay, a luxurious beachfront resort, or a charming bed and breakfast, we’ve got you covered. Happy travels!

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Top 10 Things to Do in Hokitika!

1. Watch the sunset from Hokitika Beach

Hokitika Beach is the stunning beach right next to Hokitika township, and is a must-visit while you are exploring the area! This awesome beach is perfect if you just fancy a wander along the long stretch of sand while watching the waves, or if you want to fossick around the abundance of driftwood that washes ashore! This beach is often shown in photos of Hokitika, where you can spot the creative driftwood artworks that have been set up along the dunes.

Hokitika driftwood art, things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

My favorite time to visit Hokitika Beach is during sunset, where you can sit on the sand and watch the spectacular display of colors that paints the sky. The West Coast is known for it’s incredible sunsets, and this is one of the perfect places to enjoy them!

Hokitika beach at sunset, things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

2. Visit the stunning Hokitika Gorge

One of the coolest things to do in Hokitika is to make a day trip out to the magnificent Hokitika Gorge! This incredible gorge is located a short 30-minute drive inland from Hokitika township, along the Hokitika River. Here, you will admire the incredible vivid blue river from a suspension bridge as it rushes through the gorge, surrounded by lush native forest.

The Hokitika River appears so blue because of a natural phenomenon called “glacial flour.” The river originates from the glaciers of the Southern Alps, and as the glaciers move, they grind against the rocks, producing fine particles of rock known as glacial flour. These tiny rock particles are so fine that they remain suspended in the water instead of settling down. When sunlight hits the water, it scatters and reflects off these particles, giving the river its striking turquoise or blue color!

Hokitika gorge, things to do in hokitika, New zealand

Hokitika Gorge Walk

From the carpark, there is a short walk that will take you through pristine podocarp forest until you reach the incredible (and oh-so insta worthy) suspension bridge over the Hokitika Gorge. The walk is a 2km loop along a well-maintained path, which will take you through the forest until you reach a viewing platform over the stunning Hokitika Gorge. From the viewing platform, the walk continues for another few minutes over curving boardwalks until you reach the swing bridge, where you stand above the river and watch it rush through the rocky gorge. It’s amazing, I couldn’t believe just how clear and blue this water is!

Hokitika gorge,  things to do in hokitika, New zealand

Getting to Hokitika Gorge

The drive to Hokitika Gorge with take around 30-minutes (33km) from the centre for Hokitika. To get there, start by heading east on the Kaniere Rd from Hokitika town centre. The road will take you through picturesque farmland and native forests, making the drive itself a delightful experience. Once you reach the small settlement of Kotahi, turn right, which will carry you across the Kokatahi River. After about 5 minutes, you’ll see signs indicating the turnoff to Hokitika Gorge. Take this turn and follow the signs, which will lead you to the parking area.

If you would prefer to join an tour group for exploring the incredible Hokitika Gorge, there are a number of tour operators that can organise a half-day outing to this amazing spot!

3. Carve your own Pounamu

Bonz N Stonz is an incredible boutique carving studio in located in the heart of Hokitika. These amazing artists hand-carve jade, Paua shell, and bone with traditional Maori designs, and also run workshops where master carves will help you design and carve your own piece to take home!

Jade carving holds significant cultural and spiritual importance in the Maori culture. Otherwise known as ‘Pounamu‘, it has been treasured by the Maori for centuries and holds deep cultural and ancestral significance as a symbol of strength, status, and mana.

Joining a carving workshop is an awesome way to learn more about the Maori culture and some of the tools and techniques used in Pounamu carving, as well as about the different symbolic designs often carved. It’s an awesome hands on experience with knowledgeable locals, and leaves you with an awesome carving as a memory of your time!

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am – 5pm

Price: Jade Carving: From $190, Paua and Bone from $100

Carving Workshop Time: Around 2-4 hours

4. Reach the treetops on the West Coast Treetop Walkway

On of the coolest things to do in Hokitika is to see what the view is like from the tree tops! West Coast Treetop Walkway is a breathtaking nature attraction that offers visitors a unique and immersive experience to walk amidst the lush New Zealand rainforest. Only a few minutes drive from Hokitika, this remarkable walkway allows adventurers to explore high above the forest floor, navigating among the treetops on elevated walkways and suspended swing bridges. From the tops of the trees, you get incredible panoramic views of native forest and the surrounding Southern Alps!

West Coast Treetops walkway,  things to do in Hokitika, New Zealand

This walkway offers an awesome blend of exhilaration and tranquility, as you can enjoy the walkway as a leisurely 1-hour stroll while enjoying the scenery. This is an awesome experience for families as well as travelers who are looking for a unique adventure on the West Coast!

If you are looking for an extra little adrenaline rush, the Treetop walk also boasts the West Coast’s First Dual Zipline! This Zipline isn’t for the faint of heart, with it spanning 425m in length, and going up to 60km/hr! This is an awesome experience, with a guide walking you up the 106 steps of the spiral tower, before you step off into the sky 47 meters above the ground. Talk about exhilarating!

West Coast Treetops Walkway, things to do in Hokitika, New Zealand

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am – 5pm (until 3.15pm in Winter

Price: Walkway $36 per adult, Zipline + Walkway $105

Walkway Time: Around 1-2 hours

5. Get up close with our national Kiwi!

An awesome rainy day activity for the whole family is to get up close with the living icons of the West Coast! The National Kiwi Centre is situated in the heart of Hokitika, and provides the incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with some of New Zealand’s most famous animals – including the reclusive kiwi!

The New Zealand Brown Kiwi is the New Zealand national icon and part of our world-wide image! The brown kiwi is nocturnal – meaning it is active at night – and so you will very rarely see them in the wild. At the National Kiwi Center they have a specialized dark-room, where you can watch kiwis as they go about their nightly business, but in the middle of the day! These kiwis are a protected species and are threatened, and so places like the National Kiwi Center are vital to their conservation.

As well as the famous Brown Kiwi, you also have a change to join in with the Eel feeding, as well as your chance to try and catch a New Zealand Freshwater Crayfish (Kōura)! This is an awesome way to spend a rainy day, with heaps of interactive and informative exhibits to keep kids of all ages entertained!

Eel feeding,  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am – 5pm

Price: Adult $31.00, Child $20.00

Feeding times: 10:00am, 12:00pm, and 3:00pm

6. Check out some of the incredible Hokitika Arts and Crafts

Hokitika has a vibrant and thriving arts and crafts scene, which is awesome to explore while you’re in town! There is a strong artistic community and unique creative talent, drawing inspiration from the stunning natural surroundings and Maori culture. While you’re in Hokitika, it’s awesome to have a wander through the city and pop into one or two of the many art galleries and studios that are around!

Wilderness Galley

The Wilderness Gallery is an award winning set gallery situated in Hokitika, and filled with amazing local artwork. This gallery began as a passion project for the photographer Juergen Schacke, and has grown to include creations from many other NZ artists, showcasing the wild and raw nature of New Zealand. As well as incredible photography, the gallery showcases carved jewelry, and sculptures inspired by the wild West Coast.

  • Address: 29 Tancred Street Hokitika 7810
  • Website: Click here!

Hokitika Glass Studio

The is an awesome studio to check out if you are wanting to see something incredibly skilled and a bit different! The Hokitika Glass Studio is a family-owned studio that creates some of the world’s finest glassware! The joy of this studio is being able to peruse the glass items available, while also looking into the workshop and getting a glimpse of how each item is skillfully hand-crafted! This studio creates a number of gorgeous NZ inspired glass sculptures, including the native yellow-eyed penguin, kiwis, and korus, perfect for a souvenir!

  • Address: 9 Weld Street, Hokitika 7810
  • Website: Click here!

7. Cycle along the West Coast Wilderness Trail

The West Coast Wilderness Trail is a renowned cycling and walking trail located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. This trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the stunning natural beauty, rich history, and rugged landscapes of the region while enjoying a gentle cycle ride!

This incredible trail stretches over 133km, from Greymouth’s historic port to the neat old gold town of Ross (around 20-minutes drive south of Hokitika). This easy gravel trail can be completed in around 4-5 days, or else you can choose to do sections as a day-bike!

Spending a day (or 5!) on this trail is one of the best ways to explore the wild nature of the West Coast. The trail takes you through lush rainforest, pristine rivers, tranquil lakes and rugged beaches, always with the peaks of the Southern Alps as a backdrop! This is a well-connected trail, with fantastic accommodation, trail transport, bike hire and excellent food and drink along the way.

Trail Hightlights

  • Greymouth: The trail often starts or ends in Greymouth, a historic town on the West Coast. Visitors can explore local heritage sites, art galleries, and enjoy the charm of this coastal town.
  • Kumara: This small town serves as a starting or ending point for the trail. It offers a glimpse into the area’s gold-mining past and features beautiful landscapes.
  • Lake Kaniere: The trail passes near Lake Kaniere, a picturesque lake surrounded by native forests. It’s a great spot for picnics, swimming, and taking in the natural beauty.
  • Ross: This historic gold-mining town provides insights into the region’s gold rush history. The historic goldfields and old buildings are a testament to its past prosperity.
  • Hokitika: As mentioned earlier, Hokitika is another town along the trail known for its vibrant arts and crafts scene. It’s a great place to explore galleries, shops, and local artisan creations.
  • Cowboy Paradise: This quirky stop offers a taste of the Wild West with its themed buildings, museum, and western-style activities.
Cycling the West Coast Wilderness Trail.  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

8. Spend an afternoon at Lake Mahinapua

Lake Mahinapua is a beautiful scenic reserve only 10-minutes drive south of the Hokitika, and it is an awesome place to go to on a day-trip from town! The lake is beautiful and tranquil, surrounded by lush native forests and nestled in-between rolling hills. On a calm day, you can even see the reflection of the Southern Alps on the lakes surface!

Lake Mahinapua offers a range of outdoor activities, whether you are looking at finding a beautiful spot for a picnic, going for a bike ride, or trying your hand at fishing! The lake is particularly famous for its stunning sunset views. Watching the sun dip below the horizon while its colors are reflected on the lake’s surface is a memorable experience.

Lake Mahinapua,  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

If you are looking for a memorable way to experience Lake Mahinapua, then check out the fabulous activities at West Coast Scenic Waterways! You can experience these amazing wetlands on a peaceful self-guided kayak, or on the back on a sunset river cruise!

Lake Mahinapue,  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

9. Discover the magic of the Glow Worm Dell

Hokitika is home to a one of the best glow worm dells in New Zealand! To experience the magic of the Glow Worm Dell, take a short walk along a path that leads into the forested area. As daylight fades and darkness falls, the glowworms start to shine. As you are walking through the dell, suddenly you will see a breathtaking display of tiny blue-green lights that twinkle like stars in the darkness! This was an incredible experience, and one of my favourite things to do in Hokitika!

  • Location: The Hokitika Glow Worm Dell is located just off the SH6, just a few minutes north of the town centre. It is accessible and just a short walk from most accommodation, making this an awesome nighttime activity.
  • Night-Time Experience: Glow Worms are most active at night, and so the best time to admire this awesome natural phenomenon is after sunset. Remember to bring a flashlight to find your way, however don’t shine it in the glow worms! As they will quickly put their light out.
  • Respect for Nature: Its important to remember that these incredible animals are a part of nature, and something to be protected! Please don’t touch the glow worms or their threads, just enjoy the beauty that they provide!
spot the Glow worms,  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

10. Discover the beautiful Dorothy Falls at Lake Kaniere

Lake Kaniere is one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand, and is only around 30-minutes drive inland from Hokitika, making it an awesome place for a day-trip! This is a glacial lake surrounded by mountains and lush rainforest, and on a calm day will have beautiful reflections of the snow-capped Southern Alps!

Lake Kaniere,  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

Lake Kaniere offers a number of picnic areas with stunning views, as well as short walks that take you through the lush forest and give you glimpses of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Dorothy Falls Walkway

  • Walk Time: 5 minutes
  • Trail Length: 200 meters

This is a very short walk that takes you from the road to the base of the stunning Dorothy Falls! This is a stunning waterfall near the lake, surrounded by nothing but lush forest. It’s an awesome place to stop and explore, and to take a photo or two (of course!) There is also a small plunge pool at the base of the waterfall which is popular with swimmers in the hot summer months.

Getting to Dorothy Falls:

From Hokitika, you drive east on the Lake Kaniere road until you reach the northern tip of the lake. The road will continue straight over the Kaniere River, turning into Hans Bay Road. This road follows along the east side of the lake, past the small Lake Kaniere township (where the road changes to Dorothy Falls Road) for around 6.8km, before winding it’s way through a stretch of forest. Once you have crossed a small bridge over the Dorothy Creek, you will see a small carpark on the left, which is where your adventure begins!

Canoe Cove Walk

  • Walk Time: 15 minutes one way
  • Trail Length: 650 meters

This short walk takes you to a small, secluded inlet at the head of Lake Kaniere! The track begins at a carpark opposite the Hans Bay Road/ Milltown Road junction, near the northern end of the lake. The trail then leads you through a dense forest of Rimu and kahikatea, before emerging on a sheltered sandy beach. This beach is ideal for a family day out, perfect for swimming in the lake (if you’re brave enough!) or having a picnic on the shore. The best part about it is that as it involves a little walk, it’s almost always empty, and you might have the beach all to yourself!

Lake Kaniere Walkway

  • Walk Time: 4 hours one way
  • Trail Length: 10.1km one way
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy walk or mountain biking track

This walk starts at the road end past Sunny Bright Picnic area, and travels down the western shore of the lake. This walkway is stunning, taking you through picturesque bays, through lush forest and over streams, and includes many amazing lookouts over the lake. The walkway emerges at the end of the Dorothy Falls Road.

Lake Kaniere, Lake Kaniere,  things to do in hokitika, New Zealand

FAQs – Things to Do in Hokitika

What is special about Hokitika?

Is Hokitika or Greymouth better?

How long is Hokitika Gorge walk?

Is it safe to swim at Hokitika Beach?

Why is the water at Hokitika Gorge so blue?

Does Hokitika have a supermarket?

What does Hokitika mean in New Zealand?

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What mountains are visible from Hokitika?

Wowzas, you made it all the way to the end! Incredible! Now that you have an awesome itinerary for your visit to Hokitika, get out there and start exploring this charming West Coast town!

If you are looking to continue your West Coast adventure and like my guides, don’t be afraid to check out my post on the best things to do in Punakaiki! Punakaiki is another small coastal town on the West Coast, around an hours-drive north of Hokitika. It’s also filled with fun adventure-filled attractions and incredible scenery, i’m sure you’ll love it. Happy travels!

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