New Zealand South Island Road Trip – HokitikaNew Zealand . Outdoor Recreation . Tent Camping . Travel . Worldwide Travel
Recommendations for Your New Zealand South Island Road Trip: Hokitika
New Zealand South Island Road Trip – Hokitika. After our morning hike to Fox Glacier, we drove the 30 minutes to Franz Josef for lunch and a walk around town. From there, it’s another 2 hours to Hokitika, or about an hour and a half to Ross and the new Top 10 Holiday Park at Ross Beach. We decided to stay the night at Ross Beach and visit Hokitika that evening and again on day four, on our drive further North past Greymouth to Takaka and Motueka.
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Hokitika’s combination of its central location between Greymouth and the mountain villages to the South, its production of greenstone, and its rich and interesting history make it a popular tourist destination. If you’re interested in staying near a sleepy coastal town away from Hokitika, the Ross Beach holiday park is a perfect spot right on the beach. The site utilizes shipping containers that have been remodeled into individual suites, and some even come with en suite accommodations. If you’re tent camping, there’s a large grassy area surrounded by native flax that cuts down on the wind coming off the Tasman Sea. If you are traveling in a camper, there are plenty of spots for that, too.
Hokitika is known for its greenstone shops and other tourist attractions. Originally a gold mining town in the 1860s, Hokitika was once one of the most populous New Zealand cities. Even though the original industries have faded, it has become a popular tourist destination along the West Coast, and we recommend spending at least half a day checking out the historical downtown area and gray sand beaches.
New Zealand South Island Road Trip – Hokitika
Hokitika, New Zealand: A Popular West Coast Destination
Hokitika is a special place for us. It’s nostalgic for a number of reasons; this was our first glimpse of the West Coast and its gray sand beaches the very first time we drove over Arthur’s Pass in January 2004 on our way around the South Island. My brother, Evan, and my cousin, Lindy, flew in for a visit, and we set out from Dunedin on an epic road trip down the West Coast, inland to Queenstown, and back to Dunedin on the East Coast where Michelle and I were living and studying at the University of Otago. That time, we stayed just North of town at the Shining Star Beachfront cabins and went for long walks on the beach. Lord of the Rings fever had taken over the islands, a great source of national pride and a showcase of New Zealand’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes. That year, the Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook was a national best-seller. We still have our copy.
Our next memorable visit to Hokitika took place five year later, in 2009, when our friends Andrea and Javier visited us. This time, we were back at Otago for graduate study, and enjoyed another South Island road trip. Michelle was about three months pregnant with Nyah. We still call Nyah our little Kiwi, because even though she was born in Boise, Idaho, we brought her back with us from New Zealand. Recently, she told us that’s probably why she loves sports and the outdoors so much, because she comes from New Zealand. Makes perfect sense to me.
Now here we are again, this time with Nyah AND Renn, combing over the same rocks and sand that have churned on these beaches since long before we showed up in 2004. The girls run and jump and fall into the sand, the waves crashing down unceremoniously behind them, a light, sprinkling rain falling across the afternoon sky, blending the colors of the sky and sea into a uniform gray. It feels good to be back, a slightly familiar, salty scent lingering in the air, driftwood scattered along the shore, and a West Coast rain settling in at dusk.
New Zealand South Island Road Trip – Ross Beach
Our Pick for the Best Accommodation Near Hokitika: Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
The Ross Beach Top 10 is one of our favorites; the combination of the fun and eclectic containers-turned-rustic-beach-accommodations, the lush coastal greenery, and the clean and well-maintained facilities make for a relaxing and enjoyable site. The property abuts the beach, so you’ll find easy access to the water. A comfortable patio and indoor kitchen and dining room look out over the grassy camping area to the Tasman Sea beyond. If you buy a NZ$49 membership, you can also get a 10% discount off of each stay, which is already reasonably priced. Most Top 10 sites have a variety of accommodation options, from tent sites to full hotel units. All of the properties have been either updated, remodeled, or built new, and Top 10 rates each of its properties by the type of amenities and accommodations offered.
We met our first inquisitive Weka, a native, flightless bird, at the Ross Beach Top 10 after the Weka wandered around our tent, looking for scraps of food. It sneakily grabbed a cracker from inside the tent before we wizened up and moved the zippers to the top of the tent opening.