Hokitika, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Hokitika was the jumping off point for a gold rush in 1864. It is located at the mouth of a river of the same name, and the would-be miners used the river to get to the gold fields, at least at first. Hokitika was a big, wealthy town, briefly. After the gold rush finished, which they inevitably do, Hokitika fell back to a small community supporting the lumber, farming and remnant gold industry. It shrank to a one-horse town, essentially, and has remained so. In fact, after logging of native species of timber was highly restricted, the West Coast was in some economic distress, such that the government stepped in with investments to develop tourism in the area.

Hokitika is still on a river (currently grey with silt due to the heavy rains) and is still a one-horse town, but has some statues and an hour and a half guided tour. As you can imagine, the tour doesn’t cover much ground, and you don’t want to go there. We found good food this evening at a pub, and some street art and beach art to enjoy.

The gold mined properties around Hokitiki were inexpensive for many years. A community of eclectic free souls, artists and other off-grid people developed there, alongside the farmers, loggers and such. Currently the town has at least 6 jade stone jewelry stores and even more carvers that supply them, plus stores selling stocks, camping equipment, souvenirs, blown glass objects, photographs, wood carvings, and so on.

Although it showered throughout the day, we decided to trust our usual good luck with weather and took our coach (bus) up to Hokitika Gorge path. The rain stopped long enough for us to walk down into the gorge and back. The path is maintained very well, well graveled, stump and rock free, and well drained. There is a very sturdy suspension bridge across the gorge and a well-situated lookout over the river at the end of the path. The river is grey with silt that has washed down from the mountains in the center of the South Island due to the great amount of rain that has been falling. The path is a walk through a temperate rainforest.