Hokitika featured in Eleanor Catton‘s novel “The Luminaries,” a book which earned Eleanor respect as a world-class novelist. The Luminaries is based on 1860s Hokitika, a town that at the centre of West Coast‘s gold rush in 1865. Thousands of immigrants arrived in Hokitika during 1865 in search of gold. Many made their fortunes but quite a number blew their money on prodigal living. Hotels sprung up all over the place and these were a hive of activity.
Today, Hokitika’s economy is driven by dairy-farming, tourism, and craft industries. The town receives a lot of foreign traffic because Hokitika is along the well-worn tourist route that eventually leads to New Zealand‘s tourist hotspot Queenstown.
Hokitika do host events that attract people to the town. Most notably the famous wildfoods festival in March which attracts up to 20,000 people into the town. The event at one stage got out of hand so the organisor’s set strict rules in place regarding alcohol to make the event more family friendly.
There is an annual horse racing meeting which takes place in the middle of January. This is part of the West Coast harness and galloping circuit which begins at Westport on Boxing day.
Hokitika also hosts an A and P Show in late January. There are also A & P Shows at Whataroa, Reefton, and Westport. Not all on the same day though.
For touristy things, the West Coast Treetop Walkway is certainly worth a visit. This is a walkway through some of the West Coast‘s most pristine forest. It may not be suitable for those without a head for heights as it is quite high in the tree tops as its name would suggest.
The Greenstone factory in Hokitika is worth a visit. Jade or Pounamu are other names for Greenstone and in the factory in the centre of town you are able to purchase some finely crafted jewellery made from Jade.
Right in the centre of town is the National Kiwi Centre where you can see New Zealand‘s national bird, the Kiwi and also the tuatara.
As is the case all over New Zealand in towns that cater for tourists, there is a large selection of cafes to choose from and if you would like access to the internet, you can do that at the public library during their opening hours or make use of the free WIFI around various places in the town.
So there you have it. A little bit about Hokitika and if you want to find out further information just ask at any information centre in New Zealand or do a Google search.
Hokitika is a small town on New Zealand‘s West Coast of the South Island. It has a very colourful history, a history that you can revisit at their local museum. Hokitika is the last major town for those heading south to Queenstown.