Hokitika felt like a sleepy little seaside town, which would have been a lot more busy had we arrived during the peak summer season. It had very spacious and wide streets, and was small enough for us to lose ourselves walking around after having parked our car for a short break on our way to Greymouth.
Hokitika is known for a few things; the first of which is that it is home to many specialist dealers and craftsmen who work with the precious local pounamu, which is a type of greenstone. There were many shops and museums filled with these green treasures dotted around town, which we happily explored for a little while.
The second thing that Hokitika is famous for is the driftwood that wash up on its beaches. In fact, they are so well-known for this that they have an annual Driftwood & Sand Festival where artists create sculptures made from debris found on the beach, which we sadly missed out on. We tried looking for the famous driftwood “Hokitika” sign, but somehow managed to get lost on the beach in doing so and gave up. In any case, it’s still a pretty spot by the seaside!
Finally, the Hokitika Gorge is also a must-do whilst in Hokitika, which we unfortunately didn’t get to do because of time. But that gives us an excuse to come back!
One of the lesser known sights in town is the Hokitika Sock World, which we only visited because we were walking by on the way to lunch (and it was free to visit). The collection of old sock-weaving machines at the back of the store is well-worth the look, especially if you’re like me and have never really given any thought as to how socks are made. Otherwise, there are plenty of different kinds of locally-made socks for sale to keep your toes warm here.
I was lucky enough to also stumble upon William Steyn‘s studio (41 Weld Street), where he creates and sells his stone paintings. Upon seeing his unique and light-hearted style of painting kiwi patterns on various stones he collects from the beach/river in Hokitika, I couldn’t resist buying something small to take home as a souvenir. William was an absolute pleasure to chat with – he has so much passion for what he does and was so knowledgeable about not only the composition of each stone that he works with, but also the weathering processes that would have contributed to the formation of particular stones, including the one that I selected. I picked a mutt of a stone, it would seem!