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February 2013 Issue
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A perfect day in Hokitika

Hokitika Gorge swingbridge. Photo: Zak Shaw

With its wild coastline and proximity to several wilderness areas Hokitika has an endless list of recreational options for visitors and no-one knows that more than Zak Shaw who has kayaked much of the region’s white water and now tutors in outdoor education at Tai Poutini polytechnic. Here’s his perfect day.

0730 Start your day with breakfast at Café de Paris. Situated one block back from the surf this small café produces some of the best food and coffee locally.

0815 Hokitika’s beachfront is a great place to walk off your food and get some fresh Tasman Sea air before getting active.

0830 Equipped with mountain bikes drive north to recently completed sections of the Westland Wilderness Trail. My favorite ride begins off the Old Christchurch road and winds its way up Kawaka Creek. The riding surface is fantastic and allows fit experienced riders to spin the legs fast, young kids to pedal side by side or slightly older folk to enjoy cruising!

1230 Back in town grab a quick bite of lunch from a local bakery.

1330 Head out of town and follow signs to the Hokitika Gorge. A swingbridge spans the gorge and the Hokitika River below is a brilliant turquoise colour. The flow of the river is calm and in my opinion is best experienced by paddling upstream in a canoe.

1500 Head back out of the Kokatahi Valley and locate the recently developed Treetop Walkway which is situated on the shores of Lake Mahinapua. This amazing facility allows people a rare perspective of the rainforest canopy. It’s a must see!

Two hours

Take a vehicle south out of town 10 minutes to Lake Mahinapua. A track follows the edge of the lake and provides a good surface for running in the bush.  Alternatively launch a sea kayak from Hans Bay at Lake Kaniere. If you manage to get on the water before a breeze picks up amazing reflections can be found in the sheltered coves.

Four hours

Hokitika has internationally renowned white water on its doorstep. Notably the Toaroha is just twenty minutes from town. Access to the put in requires a twenty-five minute walk. Many boggy sections of the track now have boardwalk over them so getting to the rapids is easy. The river section is grade three and flows through a pristine corridor of schist boulders and fun white water. The Toaroha is a great trip if you need to burn off some energy!