Hokitika Gorge

Visiting Hokitika Gorge

We know it sounds like a bit of a cliche, but Hokitika Gorge, or more specifically, the incredible turquoise river that flows through the gorge is something you really have to see to believe. While not unique to the Hokitika river, or even New Zealand for that matter, the colour of this river is for many a unique experience that’s well worth the short 33km drive from Hokitika town itself.

West Coast Glaciers marker

So how does the water get this blue colour you ask? Well it’s all down to something called ‘rock flour’ which is ground down mineral-rich schist rock and sandstone which is so fine that instead of settling to the bottom of the river it remains suspended in the water as it flows down from the southern alps through what some refer to as Hokitika blue gorge.

Hokitika Gorge

As you can see from the rather sad looking riding boots, we didn’t visit in the best of weather. We’d spent the previous night in the little town of Murchison near Nelson Lakes and managed to dodge the rain all the way down the West Coast, stopping in to see the amazing Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki before continuing to Hokitika where we checked into the equally amazing Rimu Lodge. Since our plan was to leave the next morning for Hanmer Springs via Arthur’s Pass we thought we’d take the gap in the weather to go and visit the gorge despite the rather ominous looking clouds to the east.

Sure enough, as we headed along the zig-zagging road just north of the gorge, the weather closed in so that by the time we reached the carpark I was a little ‘grumpy’ as Debs would put it. But we’d come this far so in our riding gear and in the rain, we walked along the short track to the swing bridge and then on to the edge of the river itself.

The sight of the river certainly lifted our spirits and so we made a promise to ourselves that we would come back on a better day and explore the area some more. So we will, and another visit to see the amazing blue water at Hokitika Gorge is a must-do on our next South Island itinerary.

Looking for more ideas on things to do and places to see when visiting the West Coast region? Have a look at our guide, Top things to do in West Coast.


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If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday, you should definitely check out our New Zealand Travel Guide. We’ve got practical advice to help you plan your trip and region guides to help you decide where to go and what to do. We also share some of our favourite experiences from our own travels around the country. Click below to find out more.

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