Day Trips From Hokitika.
Hokitika is the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. Stay at https://crookedmilehokitika.com and see these fantastic sights in a day.
1. Franz Josef Glacier – Day Trip From Hokitika
A visit to Franz Josef is easily doable in a day from Hokitika. It takes about 1hr 20mins to drive there. Then you can decide how you want to spend your time. There are a number of options – just decide what takes your fancy and fits your budget.
Many people choose a guided walk to the glacier, which I can highly recommend and there are number of companies to choose from. They all offer an excellent service and you will be in good hands whoever you choose.
Another popular option is to take a heli-hike. I’ve done this myself and it is incredible and well worth the money. It also takes less time and so gives you more time to do other things while down there.
You can also take a scenic flight landing on the ice, without the hike.
If you have time to kill either before or after your glacier trip, there a a lot of other activities to choose from.
If all this activity sounds a bit much or you need to revive your muscles then I can highly recommend a soak in the hot pools at www.glacierhotpools.co.nz There are 3 pools, each one a different temperature. You can also book massages and spa treatments. A great way to unwind after a walk on the ice.
2. Arthur’s Pass Day Trip From Hokitika
Arthur’s Pass is a little over an hours drive from Hokitika. This is a really worthwhile trip if you have driven down from Picton or Westport and are continuing south to Queenstown etc. If you haven’t come from Christchurch ( or will not be returning that way) you will not have had the opportunity to drive over this amazing alpine pass. A day trip to Arthur’s Pass will give you the chance to see the incredible feat of engineering that is the Otira Viaduct.
If you’re lucky you may even get to see the kea. The world’s only alpine parrot.
There are a number of short walks you can do in and around Arthur’s Pass.
You can also check out the Otira Stagecoach Hotel. It has a huge collection of antiques and collectibles. You can grab a bite to eat and a coffee. www.otirahotel.co.nz
3. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – Day Trip From Hokitika
This is one of my favourite things to do here. I love the drive from Hokitika up to Punakaiki. It doesn’t matter if the weather is amazing or terrible the Coast Road is incredible and the blow holes are always stunning.
We like to stop in at the Monteiths Brewery for a bite to eat and of course a taste of the product.
The drive from Hokitika to Punakaiki takes about an hour but we recommend you slow down and enjoy the journey. There are so many beaches, nooks and crannys you may want to take the whole day – and make sure you have your camera. You could stop at Rapahoe Beach for a swim.
The main highway called The Great Coast Road between Westport and Greymouth has been named one of the Top 10 Coastal Drives in the world according to Lonely Planet. Your drive to Punakaiki takes you on the very best part of this road.
Punakaiki is an amazing place to visit in any weather. Of course it is beautiful when it is warm and sunny but the blow holes are at their most impressive when the sea is up and the wind is blowing.
I can also highly recommend the short Truman Track walk to the beach.
4. Lake Brunner/Moana – Day Trip From Hokitika
Go for lunch at Lake Brunner Hotel or the Station House Cafe.
Moana is a town that sits on the edge of Lake Brunner near Greymouth, West Coast.
It is famous for: Brown trout that die of old age.
When to come: Year round.
What you will experience: A lake that’s awesome for jet boating, yachting, paddle boarding and fishing for brown trout.
Pack: Your togs (swimsuit), towel and sunscreen.
Locals tip: The TranzAlpine train stops at the lake side in Moana and is a nice alternative to board the train to Christchurch a little later in the day.
Fun fact: Moana has a fascinating history of maori tribes that lived in the area.
There are a number of easy walks in the area.
How To Get There
From Greymouth drive inland under the Cobden Bridge, follow the road until you turn right onto Arnold Valley Rd (signs for Moana/Christchurch/Lake Brunner Road/Lake Brunner Tourist Drive), turn onto Ahau Road to go into the Moana township and most popular lake side spots.
5. Okarito – Day Trip From Hokitika
Okarito is approx 1hr 10mins drive south of Hokitika
At Okarito lagoon, on the west coast of the South Island, there’s a huge area of shallow open water and tidal flats just waiting to be explored. It’s the perfect location for sheltered water kayaking, and there is plenty to see as you paddle along.
The lagoon is surrounded by lush native rainforest, above which rise the towering snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. The area is an important feeding ground for thousands of wading birds that seem relatively unruffled by the wide-eyed people drifting quietly by in kayaks.
The kotuku (white heron) is very rare here, as New Zealand is at the edge of the bird’s climatic and geographic range. Each year adult kotuku come from all over New Zealand to the country’s only breeding area on the Waitangiroto River. The Okarito lagoon is their main feeding ground and the permanent home for some of the population.
The kotuku is sacred to Maori people. Kotuku feathers were highly prized and used to adorn chiefs in life and death. In Maori oratory, one of the highest compliments that can be made is to liken someone to the kotuku. Maori people believe the kotuku is an inhabitant of the spirit land of Reinga and an old Maori funeral chant ends with these words ‘Ko to kotuku to tapui, e Tama – e’, which means ‘Kotuku is now thy sole companion, oh my son’.
Kayak tours and freedom kayak rental on Okarito Lagoon, South Westland. Just 20 minutes drive from Franz Josef Glacier, the lagoon is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Paddle into the rainforest. Amazing view of the Southern Alps.
Adult$55.00 – $115.00Child$27.50 – $57.50
Explore the stunning waterways of Okarito Lagoon
Kayaking on Okarito Lagoon, New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland and home to large numbers of native and endemic bird species (over 70 species of bird have been recorded here). Kayaks are a great way to explore the lagoon and view the abundant birdlife.
Okarito township is just a 20 minutes drive from Franz Josef Glacier.
We provide guided kayak trips and freedom rental kayaking with a focus on the ecology of the lagoon and the outstanding scenery. After exploring the tidal mudflats of the lagoon, kayakers can paddle deep into the rainforest river channels of the Okarito river delta. Towered over by 400 year old Kahikatea trees, kayakers can then view a large number of forest dwelling birds. A true wilderness experience.
Okarito Kayaks, 1 The Strand, Okarito, West Coast, New Zealand.
Business hours:8am – 5:30pm Months of operation:All months of the year
6. Historic Gold Town, Ross – Day Trip From Hokitika
Ross is a 25min drive south of Hokitika.
Ross was settled in 1865, proving to be gold-rich. It is the sources of a fist-sized nugget weighing about 3.1kg. This was a celebrated find, and the nugget was christened ‘the Honourable Roddy Nugget’, after the Minister of Mines Roderick McKenzie.
A visit to the town wouldn’t be complete without a beer at The Empire Ross Hotel
Origin of name:
The town popped up following the discovery of gold in the mid-1860s and was named after George Ross, provincial treasurer of Canterbury.
Population: Today there are 297 people in Ross, quite a drop from the 2500 who lived here during the height of the gold rush.
Claim to fame: New Zealand’s largest gold nugget was unearthed in Ross in 1909; weighing 3.1kg or 99.9oz, it was dubbed the “Honourable Roddy Nugget” after Roderick Mackenzie, Minister for Mines at the time. Although don’t expect to clap eyes on it, because in 1911 the nugget was given to King George V as a coronation gift and was melted down and gilded on to a tea set. Prior to that it was used as a doorstep at the local hotel before being raffled off to raise funds to build the local hospital.
- Mining relics, tunnels and the remainder of miles of water race can be found in the regenerating rainforest on the many walks around Ross.
- There are also some of NZ’s best trout fishing nearby and at a certain low tides, you can collect mussels on the beach.
- The Information Centre in Ross offers the opportunity to try your hand at goldpanning and get your own Roddy nugget!
- Floating Golf Challenge. Hit the golf balls onto the floating platform in the lake.
Ross Historic Cemetery – Walk
LOCATION : 5mins before you reach the townships northern end
Time: 10 min one way
Access: Walk starts from the top of St James Street near Visitor Centre.
Features: Part of the Ross Water Race Walkway. Short zig zags uphill before entering the Cemetery. Interesting headstones and great views.
Ross Water Race Walkway – Walk
EASY / MODERATE
Time: 1 hour loop.
Access: Walk starts from Ross Visitor Centre.
Features: Follows Mt Greenland Rd up Jones Ck & loops back following water race. Replica miner’s hut, several dam sites and tunnels. Passes through old Ross cemetery with views overlooking Ross and the Tasman Sea. Goldmining area relics to be seen on walk and at visitor centre.
Best reasons to stop:
Ross is popular for bush walks, bird watching, fishing, whitebaiting and hunting.
Kids love: Gold panning – hire a pan at the Ross Goldfields Information and Heritage Centreand try your luck right outside the centre or down at Jones Creek – or, if you’re feeling lucky, ask a local for a secret spot.
Best parks: There are lots of reserves dotted about the town, from the rugby grounds to Pioneer Park by the swimming pool. The area beside the information centre is pretty popular, look out over Birchfield’s Hole (is it a little lake or a large pond?) where you’ll find barbecues, bathrooms and facilities for campervans.
Best playground: Right next door to the school, there are slides, swings, see-saws and a jungle gym.
Best walks: Ross Waterway Walk is an easy one hour loop. Starting at the visitor centre, it passes by a miner’s hut, dams and tunnels and along the way you’ll be rewarded with views across Ross and the Tasman Sea. For an easy 20-minute trot, zig zag up to the cemetery and read the headstones.
Climb every mountain: If you fancy a hearty hike, trek up Mt Greenland, at 18km the walk takes about seven hours there and back. Fab bush and bird life and, on a clear day, the views are outstanding.
Best views: Either from the top of Mt Greenland or from the cemetery.
Best place to pull over: Take a picnic to the beach at sunset, the sculptural driftwood is epic.
Best swim: If you swim in the sea, be sure to respect it – on a good day it’s fine but in rough weather it can be a big angry monster. Swim in the local pool during summer for a modest entry fee or dip in the Mikonui River if you’d rather. Or paddle in Birchfield’s Hole.
Best museum: Ross Goldfields Information & Heritage Centre is a mine of information (ha!). Run by locals, you can learn all about local history which was pretty wild back in the day.
Nice arts: The museum has a neat shop where you can purchase local art, crafts, souvenirs and gifts. Or stop in at The Ross Art Studio and Gallery (next to the dairy) where you can buy the works of local artists including impressive pottery.
Cream of the coffee: The Roddy Nugget Cafe serves a super brew. Alternatively grab a cuppa at The Empire or the local grocery store.
Hungry? The Roddy Nugget bakes amazing pies and their whitebait fritters are delish – you’ll never find fresher than on the West Coast. The marinated pork strips are rated highly, while their seafood chowder flies out the door. Or head to the Empire Hotel for a roast on Sunday night and live music.
DIY dinner: Time the tide right and pick a feed of mussels off the rocks – happily the kai moana on the West Coast is unlikely to be overfished because Mother Nature only allows humans to fish about 10 per cent of the year.
Wet your whistle: The Empire is a welcoming historic hotel. The open fire is the pub’s heart and soul, although the real warmth comes from the people. Be sure to stop in for a jam session on the last Friday of each month. Because many West Coast homes only got power in the 1960s, musical traditions are strong around here because, for generations, people had to make their own entertainment.
Best mountain biking: The West Coast Wilderness trail is a little beauty. At 139km long it connects Ross to Greymouth and bursts with nature, history and beauty. Or go to Totara Valley, an easy half-day mountain bike ride (40km, grade 1).
Best adventure: Kayaking, bush walking, bird watching and, mountain biking. The region is also famous for trout fishing, whitebaiting and surfcasting.
Coming soon: The Chinese Memorial Gold Miners’ Gardens should be up and blooming next year, ditto the Motorcycle Museum.
Best kept secret: The West Coast Treetop Walk, just minutes from Ross, is a canopy walkway through mature rimu forest that is 20m high and 450m long and truly astonishing.
Wildlife: Birds, seals, deer, pigs, trout, salmon and whitebait.
The verdict: Good as gold.