Air NZ's top 10 picks for Hokitika

Wildest of foods put Hokitika on world map

It’s easy to savour the delicate flavour of the famous West Coast whitebait but how do you feel about a little worm sushi, a mountain oyster (a sheep’s testicle that is) or maybe even a horse semen shot!

These are just some of the rare and sometimes risqué delicacies on offer at Hokitika’s Wildfoods Festival held every February.

The festival was the brain child of local woman , Claire Bryant, who decided her home made West Coast gorse flower wine and rose petal brew should be shared and what better way than a festival celebrating the flavours of the wild West Coast.

That was 21 years ago and today the festival is so popular that ticket sales are capped at 15,000.

People come from all over the country and overseas to sample the wares which also include less challenging but equally delicious options such as shark, venison, wild boar and hangi meat pies (hangi is the traditional Maori in-the-ground method of cooking meat and vegetables).

This is truly a one-of-a-kind festival and one that should be experienced at least once.

Other highlights to look out for in Hokitika include:

  • Shantytown – a recreation of a pioneering 1900’s West Coast village where you will have the chance to ride a steam-train and pan for gold

  • The National Kiwi Centre – view West Coast creatures including the Kiwi in the centre’s nocturnal house and take the chance to feed  giant eels

  • Artisans – watch local crafts people at work as they blow glass, turn wood and work with pounamu (the Maori name for New Zealand jade or greenstone)

  • Te Waipounamu Maori Heritage Centre – learn the history of Maori occupation in the region

  • Mountain biking – the region has a wealth of unpopulated tracks through the local area

  • Kayaking and rafting – with rivers that drop rapidly from the Southern Alps to the sea there is white water for every level of rafter and kayaker

  • Golf – play on a true links course at the Hokitika Golf Club with splendid views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and other mountains in the Southern Alps

  • Walks – from walks around the town to scenic circuits of Lake Kaniere and Lake Mahinapu and expeditions into the native rain forest there are walks to suit all ages and abilities

  • Coast to Coast – this is an exceptionally challenging endurance event which sees hundreds of athletes cycle, run and kayak their way from Kumara (just out of Hokitika) across the Southern Alps to Christchurch on the east coast. To watch these people set off in the early hours of a February morning is quite a sight

  • West Coast hospitality – the hospitality of Hokitika and other West Coast towns is legendary. Make time for a chat or a beer in a local and experience it for yourself


Air New Zealand flies between Hokitika and Christchurch linking it with 25 other destinations on the domestic network. For information and to book flights to Hokitika visit

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