West Coast Whitebait

For the visitor it may be hard to understand why we get so excited about a tiny translucent fish but on the West Coast whitebaiting is a big deal. 


man whitebaiting on Hokitika River

The tiny delicacy can be worth about $100 a kilo so it is big business. Primo whitebait stands have been known to change hands for as much as $70,000.  Most baiters are only interested in feeding the family and filling their freezers, but others survive an entire year on what they earn during whitebait season (between September and November). 

To see what all the excitement is about head down to the river-mouth to watch them scooping. It is usually a fairly relaxed affair but if the bait is running you will know all about it. The old timers can tell you about the time when a 2,000kg haul in a day wasn’t unheard off.

A Taste Delicacy

If you don’t have the patience to fish yourself then Hokitika’s many cafes and restaurants all have their own signature whitebait dish to tantalise your taste buds. One taste and you will realise what all the excitement is about.

More Information about West Coast Whitebait

Browse the listings below to learn more about West Coast Whitebait.

See & Do

The National Kiwi Centre
PH: (03) 755 5251 E:

Opposite New World Supermarket, Tancred St, Hokitika. Guaranteed viewing of kiwi in their nocturnal house. Come and find New Zealand’s living dinosaur, the tuatara. Discover West Coast creatures like whitebait, crayfish and many more. Participate in our giant eel feedings at 10am, 12 noon & 3pm. Kiwi feed after eels at noon. The perfect all-weather activity suitable for all ages. Open 7 days, 9am to 5pm in summer and 9.30am to 4.30pm in winter.

Sunset Point - Walk and Scenic Lookout

LOCATION : Hokitika Beach

Time: 5 minutes walk from town centre.
Access: By foot, along beach, beach track, or Quayside section of Heritage Walk. By road via Sunset Point Rd.
Features: Sunsets, sunrises & starry nights. Hokitika rivermouth & beach. Lookout, views of NZ’s highest Mts. Cook (Aoraki) & Tasman (Horo Kawau). Tambo ‘shipwreck’. Information panels. Walks, picnicing, beach fossicking, fishing, & whitebaiting.

Beachfront Hotel Hokitika
PH: (03) 755 8344 E: FREEPH: 0800 400 344

The name says it all! Our unique location on the shores of Tasman Sea and in the heart of Hokitika allows you to beachcomb and explore arts & crafts galleries all from your doorstep. A wide range of accommodation along with onsite facilities including Ocean View Restaurant, Driftwood café, Coasters Bar, 3 function rooms and wireless internet. Free off street parking available.


Fat Pipi Pizza

PH: (03) 755 6373

You haven't experienced Hokitika until you've tried the original whitebait pizza at Fat Pipi Pizzas. In the heart of the township, enjoy gourmet treats that extend beyond pizza and discover why this unique West Coast eating house has featured in the Lonely Planet travel guide for the past four years. 

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West Coast Wine Company