Discover Hokitika, West Coast New Zealand


I finally came to discover Hokitika, west coast New Zealand a few months ago after having lived in the South Island for many years. I had visited Greymouth and the Pancake Rocks the last time I was on the west coast but we didn’t have time to take in Hokitika so we made a plan to visit this time. We were staying with a friend of ours in Greymouth so it was only a short drive from there which was handy. I had seen many a photo of the famous Hokitika beach with its driftwood sculptures and always wanted to see it for myself. We had just missed a huge storm which was the tai end of a hurricane so we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we got there. Our friend told us that is a very windy area and he was sure there would be some damage. We took the drive that morning and luckily it was a beautiful day.


hokitika driftwood sign on beach

Hokitika is a lovely quaint little town which is very tidy and well looked after. It is full of character with historical old buildings that almost feels other-worldly. There are of course modern shops and buildings scattered amongst the older ones but there is a real old world charm to the place. There are all the shops you need and plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from. It has everything you need so a grand spot to spend the day or event few days if you have time. We had out two babies, aged one and three with us so we contemplated going to see the kiwi birds (protected NZ native flightless birds) and reptiles at the museum there but it was a bit pricey so we decided against it. It was probably worth doing if you have time on your hands and want to see kiwis up close. 

We made our way straight to the beach and it was only a short walk. We noticed the had fairy lights along the walkway which would make it really pretty at night. When we got to the edge, it is a rock bank separating the beach from the main area. I was surprised that it is a very short length of sand to the sea but it is stretching quite far in width. We bumped into a local man who our friend knew and he explained that the storm had caused a lot of damage to the beach area, blowing down most of the driftwood sculptures. They had recently put on a big annual driftwood sculpture show along the outskirts of the main beach and it had all been destroyed. However, on the plus side he said the beach was cleared of all the debris and was actually looking better than ever before. The sandy beach did look stunning and the waves were a real spectacle. It was still quite windy so the waves crashed against the clear sandy shore with a mighty force but eased into a foamy swish which was a lovely enchanting sound.

The most photographed part of the beach has to be the famous landmark driftwood sculpture that reads Hokitika. According to our local friend, it had actually been blown apart by the hurricane but had quickly been reformed by locals. Thankfully, they did a good job and I was happy to finally get my photo of it. I took a walk with the kids along the rest of the beach to look at the cool driftwood sculptures that remained. Check out the photos below.

We didn’t get to swim as it was just too dangerous with the waves and being so windy it wouldn’t have been enjoyable to sit on the beach. We vowed to come back again and go swimming at the beach next time. It is a lovely place to spend time.

After there we decided to head up to Hokitika Gorge. It is a real sight to behold and a lovely walk. It isn’t a very long walk so it worked for us since we had 2 babies with us. It is fine for bringing a pram too. There is a cool walkway bridge so if you’re afraid of heights you may be feeling a bit acrophobic! It is very safe though and just shakes a little when you walk along. You can only have a few at a time due to weight restriction too.

It is very lush green and mountainous with stunning views and rainforest-like foliage such as the New Zealand fern. Check out the photos.

NZ fern and palms pic                                                            hokitika gorge


  hoitika gorge with bridge

trees on the walkway at hokitika gorge  walkway wooden path hokitika gorge  on the bridge over hokitika gorge

looking down on the Hokitika gorge
View looking down on the Hokitika gorge


pastel blue water at hokitika gorge
Pastel blue chalk water at Hokitika gorge


waters edge viewpoint at hokitika gorge
Waters edge viewpoint


The water is this pastel blue-green colour due to chalk from the rocks mixed with glacier particles and is truly unique. It is a beautiful place to visit and you can even jump in for a swim there. It is really unspoilt with fantastic views all around. If you’re a nature lover you will be right at home there. 

The walk is suitable for all age groups but there are a few steep hills so if you have a pram you may want to take it in turns. All in all a really enjoyable day out. If you are going to visit the South Island you should discover Hokitika, west coast New Zealand while you’re there. You won’t be disappointed!

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