While the charming town of Hokitika has plenty for tourists visiting New Zealand's West Coast to see on its main street and beach, the spectacular Hokitika Gorge is the main attraction of the area. Located a little more than a half-hour away from the town of Hokitika toward the foothills of the Southern Alps, the gorge features brilliant teal water due on a sunny day, and a milkier, less saturated blue color on cloudy days. Both are the result of rock flour suspended in the water. Against polished white boulders, the contrast is very beautiful, and it is a great place to swim or take a few pictures. Use caution; the water is cold!
For those staying in Hokitika, it is a relatively boring 33-kilometer drive to the trailhead. It is several hours from any towns, although still reasonably close to Franz Josef or Punakaiki for visitors to make a day out of visiting both the gorge and the town of Hokitika. Visiting the gorge itself will not take long. The trail down to the gorge is very family-friendly—a viewpoint, which is ADA accessible, is located just after the parking area. The trail then descends downward and across a suspension bridge with the best view of the gorge before descending farther to the Hokitika River itself. It is a short and well-maintained trail that will not take long to do. Hikers leave the same way they come in.