Cover photo full
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island, Hokitika provided the setting for the 2013 Man Booker-award winning “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton . Its gold-mining history has given way to a beach side town boasting numerous artisans, galleries and good coffee.
HistoryHokitika was founded on gold mining in 1864, and became a center of the West Coast Gold Rush . By late 1866, it was one of New Zealand’s most populous centers and boasted 102 hotels and three opera houses.
The population has greatly declined since the time of the Gold Rush, but the population of the region is now on the rise thanks to “lifestyle inhabitants”. Almost 30% of the district’s rate-payers live outside of Hokitika.
The major industries of gold, coal and forestry have diminished over the last century, but have given way to a growing ecotourism industry.
ActivitiesAlways wanted to try your hand at finding gold? Now’s your chance! Pick up a gold pan and head to one of the public fossicking areas at Ross or Goldsborough, where you’ll be watched by the cheeky native weka bird. There are also plenty of bush walks near Hokitika where you can still see authentic relics from the gold years, including water races and tunnels.
Before the gold rush, the indigenous Maori people headed to the region for another precious stone – pounamu or New Zealand jade. Today, Hokitika has probably more galleries and artist studios per capita than anywhere else in New Zealand. Take time to walk around town and take in the studios, and talk to the artists themselves. There are pounamu carvers, photographers, painters, gold, silver and copper smiths, glass blowers, sculptors, wood turners and potters.
The artisan community is celebrated in the annual Driftwood and Sand Beach Sculpture event, as well as the “Take A Seat” competition, which sees a new art seat created every year around town.
The Hokitika Museum on Hamilton Street provides an excellent history of the town, from its gold mining history, through to its Pounamu and Whitebait industries. Opening hours are 10am – 5pm, and entry is 6 NZD per adult, and 3 NZD per child.
The Wild Food Festival is an annual event showcasing the best and strangest food that the West Coast has to offer. Festivalgoers have the opportunity to try crocodile bites, chicken feet, grasshoppers and mountain oysters. The festival also caters to foodies, with marinated tuna, whitebait patties, smoked high country salmon, and game meat.
Check out www.wildfoods.co.nz for up to date information on the festival.
DiningYou haven’t experienced Hokitika until you’ve picked up fish and chips from Dulcie’s Takeaways on the corner of Gibson Quay and Wharf Street, and had a picnic on the beach. The turbot or blue cod come highly recommended.
Fat Pipi Pizza on Revell Street is a local institution. Serving up the local delicacy of whitebait, Fat Pipi’s whitebait pizza cannot be missed. Enjoy your meal in their beautiful garden bar.
For a slow brunch, or a sampling of aged cheese, stop in at Hokitika Cheese & Deli on Revell Street. Delicious coffee and their famous chicken pies will make it worth your while.
Where to StayMotels dominate the accommodation offerings in Hokitika. Reliable choices include Shining Star Beachfront Accommodation, Jade Court Motor Lodge, and Fitzherbert Court Motel.
At the hotel end of the spectrum, check out the Beachfront Hotel, which boasts beautiful ocean views.
For a budget option, try the Drifting Sands hostel (which comes with beach access), or Birdsong Backpackers.
Getting thereBy bus, InterCity departs daily from Tancred Street for Greymouth, Nelson and Franz Josef Glacier.
Air New Zealand provides daily flights to Christchurch from Hokitika Airport, adjacent to the town.
ClimateDue to its rainforest location, the weather is often wet in Hokitika, however, sunshine hours are similar to the main centers of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Temperatures are relatively stable throughout the year. In summer, the average high is 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit). Winters can be cool, with temperatures dropping to around 3° Celsius (38° Fahrenheit).
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: Amanda. Last updated: Jun 12, 2015