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6 Reasons Why Hokitika is Such a Cool Little Town

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Plenty of reasons to love the beach town of Hokitika.

Located almost in the centre of the wild West Coast, Hokitika is a town that deserves much more than just a quick pit stop during your New Zealand road trip. Featuring heaps of hikes and a great local culture, it is a place that is best “embraced”, not just “visited”.

Hokitika was created during the great Kiwi gold-rush of the 1860s. It now has just the right pace, not to fast, not too slow, helped with stunning surroundings to establish itself as a typical New Zealand town with an untypical vibe.

If you’re staying a while, don’t forget to check out these 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Hokitika.

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1. It’s a beach town by the snowcapped mountains!

It is impossible to miss the stunning beaches bordering Hokitika. They are probably the best illustration of what New Zealand is all about: the sight of both snowcapped mountains and waves smashing on the beach. Working holidaymakers staying in Hokitika for a little while will find peace walking along the beach after a long work day.

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2. Dorothy Falls also hides glowworms!

Lodged near Lake Kaniere, the walk to the falls is known to hide a few glowworms that can easily be spotted at night. If you are visiting during a hot summer’s day you will find the lake a perfect spot for a quiet swim. Want to stay longer? There’s even a campsite nearby. And, want to stay even longer? Hike up to the Mt Tuhua peak or Mt Brown. The two-day hiking trips will reward you with some incredible West Coast scenery.

 Andrew Turner on Flickr

3. You can dive into the stunning Hokitika Gorge

The milky blue waters of the gorge offers a stunning reminder that nature can still surprise you. Cross the gorge using a swingbridge and relax by the water. The glacial waters warm up in summer making it the most picturesque spot for a dive on this side of the country.

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4. The town enjoys a slower pace of life

Time seems to stand still in Hokitika. Stay over there over a week and you will start seeing patterns of locals going on with their weekly routines. Whatever the weather, whatever the world events, things will stay the same in Hokitika. Maybe only an All Blacks game will break the routine as the local pub transforms into a chanting rugby mecca. As if time needed a symbol here in Hokitika, the main roundabout features the iconic Hokitika Clock Tower.

 Bernard Spragg. NZ on Flickr

5. This is the best place to find Greenstone

Also known as pounamu, New Zealand greenstone was prized from generation to generation of native Maori. It was a symbol of high status and was also used for tools and weapons due to its strength and durability. Its deep rich colour also makes it a nice ornament. Today, pounamu can be bought in many shops in Hokitika, some of which feature master carvers that you can watch work. If you are lucky, you might find pounamu by walking along the beach after some rough weather.

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6. Its driftwood beach is an unmissable photo op

The beach is a core part of Hokitika’s culture and whatever washes ashore is a source of inspiration for the locals. In fact, they hold a festival especially for that. Every January, the Driftwood and Sand Beach Sculpture Festival invites artists to create sculptures with whatever they find on the beach. At the end of the festival, the creations are left for the tide to wash away a few weeks later. The Hokitika driftwood sign is a picture that you need in your classic “Kiwi Gap Year” photo album.

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