CHEAP CAR RENTAL HOKITIKA AIRPORT
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Cheap Car Hire Hokitika Airport
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West Coast Attractions
A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Hokitika and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around the NZ West Coast you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the West Coast Tourism website.
Interesting places to visit
A - Treetop Walk
The West Coast Treetop Walk is an enchanting visitor attraction, and just 15 minutes south of Hokitika in your hired car. Here lies a grand grove of ancient kamahi and rimu trees, and a chance to walk among these giants on a platform elevated 20 metres above the forest floor. Built on conservation land in the Lake Mahinapua Scenic Reserve, it is the biggest and tallest treetop walkway in New Zealand and a fairly new development for tourism here on the West Coast.
The journey begins a short walk from the entrance and cafe (a shuttle is available to cover this distance for those with limited mobility; motorised wheelchairs can access the whole treetop walkway, as can prams). The walkway is safe and fully enclosed, and engineered for stability. There is some movement that you will feel however, a gentle swaying of the boards below you. Informative panels are located at key points along the way to educate visitors about what they’re seeing around them. The highest point is atop Hokitika Tower, ascending to 40 metres above ground. Panoramic views to Lake Mahinapua, the snowy Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea are your reward for climbing the 100 plus steps around the narrow spiral staircase.
The foliage is diverse, including matai, totara and kahikatea. The trees provide food and shelter for birds such as the bellbird and tui. And the white heron, or kotuku, can often be found at the stream beside the cafe, nibbling on whitebait.
The whole experience lasts for up to an hour, as you walk for half a kilometre through the canopy of temperate rainforest, among the treetops. In extreme weather such as high winds or storms the walkway may close.
B - Hokitika Gorge
The vivid turquoise waters of the Hokitika River are unmistakeable, and they really do look as vibrant as that in real life! You can’t miss seeing them for yourself at the Hokitika Gorge while on the west coast.
A walking track leads through hardwood forest from the car park, coming out onto a viewing platform (all wheelchair friendly). You will be able to look down on the Hokitika Gorge and further out to rich green farmland.
Continue along from the platform via the board walks until you hit the famous Hokitika Gorge swing bridge. The views of the water in ever shifting shades of blue and green are second to none. The ravine is steep with massive rocks making up the granite sides of the gorge.
Crossing the swing bridge you can then follow the track as it continues through the bush to a different viewing platform pointing up stream.
Further along the gorge, you can go white water rafting. There are no tracks up this far; this section can only be accessed by air. After helicoptering in the expedition begins in earnest with the launch of the rafts! Rafting on these crystal clear waters is bound to be an unforgettable adventure.
Located southwest and inland from Hokitika township, the journey will take about half an hour in your rental car. The route is well sign posted along the way. For a scenic loop drive back via Lake Kaniere, which is north of the gorge. Alternatively, another option is to head towards Lake Mahinapua on the way back, taking the Woodstock-Rimu road.
C - Gold Shops
The town of Hokitika was originally built on mining in the 1800s at the height of the gold rush. The gold of the West Coast is a deep yellow, some of the purest in the world in its natural form. The biggest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was discovered just south of Hokitika in 1909, the size of a human fist and weighing close to 3 kg. Today the surrounding mountains and waterways still hold gold and you can try panning at the old goldfields in nearby Ross and Goldsborough.
Today that heritage lives on in shops like The Gold Room, which creates fine jewellery from local nuggets and flakes. Natural gold nuggets are each totally unique (like individual snowflakes) with no two exactly the same. At The Gold Room you can touch and hold a real gold nugget, feeling the weight and heft in the palm of your hand, or even buy a gold pan for yourself to take home as a memento.
You’ll have the chance to watch the in house jeweller working to craft exquisite jewellery, straight out of the ground and fashioned into beautiful wearable pieces. From rings to pendants and bracelets, a variety of prices and styles are displayed and available for sale.
The store is steeped in history with pictures and other relics decorating the walls of the store. There are two large models complete with water wheels, gold dredge, sluice guns and miners. The large and spacious studio and gallery are open 7 days a week, in the heart of Hokitika, a short distance from car rental depots.
D - Hokitika Museum
Housed in the historic Carnegie Building on the corner of Hamilton and Tancred Streets near our rental depot, it’s hard to miss the big red brick Hokitika Museum. This regional history hub tells the story of the wild West Coast, one of the most rugged and isolated regions of New Zealand. The museum’s down to earth displays and friendly staff reflect the spirit of the West Coast, which lives on today.
Start with the excellent audio visual experience, which offers an introduction to the area’s history. Delve into exhibitions devoted to the history of development and transport in Westland, and the rotating art and specialist exhibitions in the gallery.
It’s a tribute to the adventurous and persistent spirits - among the early pioneers there were a number of convicts - who settled here and made the area their home. It was hard graft, battling the elements, eking out a living and retreating to one of the many pubs by night.
You will also find the biggest Meccano dredge in the world at Hokitika Museum, a scale model of the dredge that once operated in the Grey River. Just pop in a dollar and watch how it used to work.
The gold rush was a defining characteristic of Hokitika and the West coast, but so too is greenstone, another precious treasure of the area, as highlighted in the pounamu room. There is a unique whitebait exhibition - this is a local delicacy - plus a quiz to keep the children occupied for awhile.
Hokitika Museum is open 7 days a week - plan to set aside time to visit and browse through while you’re in town.
E - National Kiwi Centre
The West Coast is one of the wettest parts of the country, but the National Kiwi Centre makes for the perfect outing on a rainy day. Located in the heart of Hokitika, it isn’t far at all from rental depots.
In this undercover facility, the kiwi are nurtured in a safe and familiar environment. The flightless birds can be seen in the dim lighting as they scurry around - the nocturnal house is specially designed to mimic their natural habitat.
Westland is home to the most critically endangered kiwi in New Zealand: the grey Rowi is in the Okarito forest and the brown/grey Tokoeka with a red tinge near Haast, of which only a few hundred each remain. Predators such as dogs, cats and rats have decimated their populations, but the primary threat is the stoat, which eats kiwi eggs and kills kiwi chicks.
Today, a conservation project called Operation Nest Egg monitors kiwi sanctuaries in Okarito and Haast, with eggs then taken to Willowbank sanctuary in Christchurch for hatching, and the chicks subsequently sent to pest free islands in the Marlborough Sounds and Otago.
Despite its name, the kiwi centre also houses many other wildlife, both native and non local. For starters there are the giant eels that you can feed at 10am, noon and 3pm daily, who are up to 100 years old and weigh as much as 20 kg. There’s the giant weta, and the tuatara, aka the living dinosaur. One male and one female live here, soaking up the sun in summer and hibernating in winter. An array of fish, frogs and turtles can also be seen in the tank.
In the freshwater aquarium you’ll find crayfish, shrimps, whitebait, and both long and short finned eels. Plus, the indoor fishing lake (catch and release only) is another highlight.
Great value - thanks! Definitely will recommend you to my friends.
Jack Webber (Australia)
Was the best deal we could find and we looked hard. Very happy.
Matt Boser (USA)
Excellent value, We got what you promised. No hidden costs like the rip off we had in Cairns!
Mike Smith (UK)
Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!
Sue White (UK)