Hokitika was founded on goldmining in 1864 at the height of the gold rush. And some hit it rich! The largest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was unearthed in Ross (south of Hokitika) in 1909. It was as big as a man’s fist and weighed 2.8kgs.
The hills and streams surrounding Hokitika still hold gold and you can try your luck panning at the historic goldfields of Ross and Goldsborough. Both are official public fossicking areas and gold pans can be bought cheaply in town.
On many of the bush walks near Hokitika, especially in the Goldsborough and Blue Spur areas, you can still see authentic relics from the gold years including water races and tunnels.
The Luminaries and Hokitika
Eleanor Catton's 2013 Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries is set in Hokitika. It brings to life the Hokitika of the gold rush era circa 1866. Read it for a feel of what life used to be like for those pioneer gold miners.
Gold in Hokitika Arts & Crafts
Its local abundance has inspired its local artists as well. You can watch goldsmiths at work and talk to them about their designs in several galleries in Hokitika.
Browse the listings below to see Hokitika places that feature gold.
See & Do
Tunnel Terrace Walk
LOCATION : Awatuna/Goldsborough
Time: 20 minute loop
Access: Signposted on Stafford-Goldsborough roadside with carpark.
Features: Track enters and exits through old goldmining tailrace tunnels and meanders through old gold workings. Passes through regenerating rimu, kamahi and tree fern forest. A great place to see glowworms at night.
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.
Blue Spur Bushwalk - Walk
LOCATION : Arahura/Blue Spur
Time: 1.5 hour loop walk
Access: Carpark on Blue Spur Road
Features: Old Chinese goldmining workings: races, stone walls and shafts in regrowth native forest. Great fun for kids to explore but care required due to steeper sections, hidden drops and shafts. Stick to the track, wear good footwear as parts can be slick.
Londonderry Rock - Walk
LOCATION : Kumara
Time: 10 min one way
Access: Turn off SH73, 1 km east of Kumara onto a metalled road running alongside a water race
Features: Walk passes through stone-fields of old goldmining tailings & manuka forest to huge glacier-deposited boulder, too big for the early miners to move or break.
Rimu Lookout - Walk and Scenic Lookout
LOCATION : Rimu / Woodstock
Time: 1 hour loop walk.
Access: Carpark at the top of Rimu Hill, 4km over Kaniere Bridge.
Features: Panoramic views of the Hokitika valley, and access to displays on the gold mining heritage of the area.
Art & Craft
The Gold Room
NATURAL GOLD NUGGETS. As found, natural West Coast gold nuggets & flakes sourced from present day gold mines. Watch our jeweller working with the as found gold, creating beautiful gold nugget jewellery. Hold a large gold nugget in your hand and experience the amazing weight of gold. Studio & Gallery Open 7 days.