Gorging on Gorgeousness at Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika! We had an amazing introduction to the West Coast town yesterday ending with a vibrant sunset, and we know there are a million more things to do here. (Even starting with the hikes. Check out 23 Unforgettable Walks in Hokitika). Today, we’re going to go to one of the most stunning of them all: Hokitika Gorge!

After a morning of working while having Survivor reruns playing on TV Mountain Jade Backpackers (Robin is obsessed with Survivor – obsessed!) and trying to eat disgusting Marmite in an attempt to be less attractive to sandflies, we hop in the van and head for Hokitika Gorge.

Putting the “Gorge” in Gorgeous!

The gorge is about a 30-minute drive (or 20 minutes if you are not in our campervan) from Hokitika town, down very step-like roads. About 10 90-degree turns later and down a short gravel road, we arrive at the car park complete with information boards and toilets! Wahoo!

The track down to Hokitika Gorge is only about 10 minutes, but we find plenty of reasons to stop starting with that first viewpoint. Wow! Look at the colour of that water! It doesn’t look real!

This first viewpoint is high above the gorge filled with milky blue water that looks like it is barely flowing. It seems like someone has poured food colouring into the water – it’s that blue. Below, we also can make out a swingbridge.

The beautiful forest (before we even see the beautiful gorge) The beautiful forest (before we even see the beautiful gorge)
Robin feeling mighty! Robin feeling mighty!
Swingbridge in paradise Swingbridge in paradise
Tree hugging vines! Tree hugging vines!

That all-famous Hokitika Gorge swingbridge

We are practically skipping down the track to get down to the swingbridge, which is very doable on this extremely accessible track to the gorge with a wide gravel and boardwalk trail.

In no time we have the swingbridge stretched out in front of us. Bouncing along, the bridge squeaks with every step, which would usually make people want to run off it as soon as possible. But with these views of rocky grey gorge walls topped with greener than green forest holding in the milky blue waters, this is a view we cannot peel our eyes from. It… is… BEAUTIFUL! Goddammit, New Zealand!

Rock climbing

But it’s not all over at the swingbrige. Now we can walk all the way down to the water’s edge and onto the rocks below. Just a few more steps through the forest and we come to the final viewing platform looking down at the rocks below. A gate practically begs for us to walk through it and climb on the rocks.

Clambering on the Rocks at Hokitika Gorge

Waterfalls and freezing water

One huge rock begs for the perfect photo opportunity (it makes anyone who stands on it look epic). Plus, it has great views down the rest of the gorge that we couldn’t see from the swingbridge. We notice a couple of small waterfalls pouring into the gorge, just adding to the beauty of the place.

Man, if we weren’t fresh out of winter, we’d love to swim in this water but even just dipping a finger in it makes our skin numb. (No matter what time of year, this glacial water is as cold as it looks).

The sandflies strike back

We can’t hang around for too long though, because the sandflies are coming… They want to test if our dose of Marmite actually worked.

Marmite contains vitamin B which is meant to disgust sandflies and stop them from biting you. On top of that, we are spraying the insect repellent all over our exposed skin but even then, Robin gets a couple of bites and one might have got Laura’s scalp. To be fair, that is a lot less bites than usual, despite seeing more sandflies than we’ve seen before, so could the Marmite be working?

Another swingbridge perspective Another swingbridge perspective
A baby koru. N'awww A baby koru. N'awww
Robin leads the way home Robin leads the way home

Sandflies: Keeping New Zealand beautiful

In a way, the sandflies are a good thing in New Zealand to keep people moving. Otherwise, we bet people would have set up picnics and all sorts down here by the water, which quite frankly, gets in the way of the beauty of the place.

Spiral forest

We are one of those people that move on and make our way back through the forest, across the swingbridge, and up to higher land.

Taking the forest walk a lot more slowly gives us the chance to appreciate some of the weird and wonderful features of the forest. Vines make perfect spirals around the trees and we see brand new baby ferns with fresh green coils or “Koru” in Maori. Many of the Maori designs, including those seen on jade stone as we discovered yesterday, have used the silver fern coils as inspiration.

Swingbridge jumpers

As we get up to that very first viewpoint we approached, we hear a massive splash. From the viewpoint, we can see a couple of English lads jumping from the swingbridge. Their dramatic gasps for air as they impact the freezing cold water echoes along the gorge! Insanity.

back to Hokitika

At the car park, we gobble up some Budget bread sandwiches then leave, watching the snowy mountains become smaller as we head back into Hokitika town.

Tomorrow, we are making like monkeys, and doing the Tree Top Walk. We’ve done many walks on the forest floor so it’s time to get all up in the canopy. See you then!

Laura and Robin

Hokitika Gorge from new heights!
Hokitika Gorge from new heights! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Awesome! We have hundreds more articles – literally – but here’s three to get you started:

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See you tomorrow!

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