The Hokitika Gorge

One of our favorite stopover recommendations is the Hokitika Gorge on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island. ​The main attraction here is the stunning blue glacial waters, created by rocks high in the mountains being ground into a fine powder by the movement of glaciers. The suspension of the resulting white powder in the blue water creates an intense and beautiful turquoise coloring.

The Hokitika Gorge is a pleasant 20-mile drive from from Hokitika, a small town on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. The road to the Gorge has recently been sealed and is very well signposted. Recent upgrades to the carpark and bathrooms have improved the experience for visitors.

On arrival, the walk in is up an easy gradient of only 15 minutes. From the car park, follow this walking track for a few minutes to a viewing platform from where you can look down to the stunning Hokitika Gorge and out to the lush farmland of Kowhitirangi.

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After leaving the viewing platform, continue along the boardwalks through beautiful forest until you reach a swing bridge. From here there are excellent views of the blue-green waters of the Hokitika River as it makes its way through the rock sided Hokitika Gorge. Cross the swing bridge, turn left and the track continues for another 200 yards through the forest to another viewing platform and large rocks where you get spectacular views of the gorge.

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You'll need insect repellent to ward off the local sandflies, tiny insects that have a harmless but annoying bite. They tend to swarm in small groups late in the afternoon and their effect is not usually felt until some time after they have landed on and nipped any exposed skin. Then the itching begins! TripAdvisor reports of being "eaten alive" are a little exaggerated, but they certainly are an irritation. Sandflies are active along the entire west coast.

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For those traveling from north to south from Greymouth and staying at Franz Josef, it's a 2-hour drive and we recommend an early start to get the best of the morning views on arrival.

As a New Zealand specialist we love to get you to places that are off the beaten track, so we'll be suggesting a visit to Motukiekie Beach later in the day, also on the west coast. A photographer's paradise. Watch out for our next blog where we'll tell you more.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Dec 03, 2018