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Hokitika Gorge, West Coast

Hokitika Gorge, West Coast

The milky blue waters of the Hokitika Gorge draw plenty of travellers traversing the West Coast region of New Zealand. It’s a nice place to explore and the walk is short and easy — keep reading for all you need to know about visiting Hokitika Gorge!

Walking the Hokitika Gorge Track

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand and have been looking on social media for inspiration no doubt you will have seen photos of Hokitika Gorge. Even if you get a grey old day (like we did the first time we visited) that famous blue water, contrasting with the green forest surrounds, is just as striking as you’d hope it would be (although it’s obviously better when the sun is out). From the car park you walk along a forested track until you reach a small viewing platform where you’ll see the gorge in all its wonder.

Hokitika Gorge from Above, New ZealandHokitika Gorge bridge, New Zealand

From there it’s a short walk down to the bridge that you’ll see from the viewpoint. The bridge is one of the best places for photos, so spend some time there before heading down to the edge of the river!

Hokitika Gorge river view, New Zealand

Down by the river

After the bridge you can walk down the other side, which will soon lead the banks (or more accurately rocks) of the river. Here you can sit on the slippery rocks and try not to be eaten by sandflies (it’s one of the worst places I’ve been to in New Zealand for sandflies). This used to be a popular swimming spot, but I’ve recently been notified that swimming at Hokitika Gorge is now considered dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted — it’s definitely best to follow the expert advice in situations like this!

Hokitika Gorge riverside area, New ZealandHokitika Gorge view, West Coast, New Zealand

From the edge of the river there isn’t a lot to do but walk back to the car park. All up a visit to the gorge will take around 30 minutes, more if you want to enjoy the scenery and don’t mind a few sandfly bites.

Getting to Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge is inland from the West Coast. From Hokitika (the town situated on the coast) it’ll take around half an hour to reach the gorge. It’s a nice enough drive but isn’t really on the way to anywhere. From there you can swing by Lake Kaniere on your way back to Hokitika — check out Dorothy Falls if you’re in the area.

Dorothy Falls -- go on the way back from Hokitika Gorge!


Hokitika is one of the biggest towns on the West Coast and is a good option if you’re looking for somewhere to stay. There’s a good beach right in town and some options for eating and drinking. There’s also some nice old buildings around and some supermarkets / camping grounds if you’re travelling on the cheap.

The Hokitika driftwood sign, New Zealand

Are you planning a trip along the West Coast? Will you make the detour to Hokitika Gorge? Let me know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.