Explore the Crazy Blue Waters of the Hokitika Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand

Hokitika Gorge Walk, West Coast

updated March 2023

The stunning turquoise waters and epic swing bridge is what drove us to visit the Hokitika Gorge. Located about 30 minutes inland from Hokitika, if you only do one thing in this area, this should be it!  Kids will enjoy this short walk, being only 15 minutes to the bridge and a short uphill on return.  Easily doable for most kids and families!  It is easily the best thing to do in Hokitika, so make sure you get off the main tourist trail and find this beauty!

As of August 2020, there is now a new section of the Hokitika Gorge walk.  The new Hokitika Gorge walk adds a 45 minute extension, making it a one hour return walk if you want to complete the whole loop.

You start at the original track, a short walk to the bridge, but now, as you head towards the “rock climbing” and “instagramming” area of the walk, you will note there is a new boardwalk section.  As you continue your bush walk, you will come across a new highlight, the 90m swingbridge.  Its huge!  If you want to see a great video of the new walk, click here

Kids no doubt will love not one, but two swingbridges on the Hokitika Gorge Walk.

Is the Hokitika Gorge walk suitable for kids?

The walk is easily manageable for kids of all ages.  It is a 5 minute walk to the first viewpoint, which would be accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, then down a short hill to the big swing bridge. Our kids do get the “run on” when going down hills, so we just held their hands coming down this bit.  The original Hokitika Gorge walk is only 15 minutes each way so preschoolers and older will cope with this without issue.  My 19 month old walked one way and I carried her back.

The new section of the Hokitika Gorge Walk:  We haven’t completed the new section of the Hokitika Gorge walk yet, but given it is only a one hour loop, we don’t expect any troubles.


What are the highlights of the Hokitika Gorge walk?

The new swingbridge is absolutely huge.  At 90m, it is one of the longest swingbridges in New Zealand (with the Buller Gorge having the longest – 110m)

The old swing bridge has great views over the beautiful waters of the Gorge, and if there hadn’t been other visitors, I would have stood here for ages.  You can stop here, or head across the bridge to another viewpoint that looks out over the rocks. There is a gate that lets you go down to explore the rocks and dip your feet in the water, but do know that it is quite slippery and young children will need their hands held.

Our kids loved climbing over these rocks, and there is a great view of the swing bridge down there! It is just a short walk to get back to the car and you can continue your adventures around the West Coast.

Warning! Sandfly alert!

One thing to note is the sandflies here are insane, so do bring insect repellent or wear long pants and shirts.  My ankles got bitten like crazy and two weeks later, I can still see my battle wounds.  Learn more about the crazy sandflies in my post here.

Can you swim at the Hokitika Gorge?

As a blanket rule, no.  The Hokitika Gorge is rocky and unpredictable.  The water levels often rise due to the crazy amount of rainfall the West Coast often has and people have actually died in the Hokitika River.  You can technically go down and touch the water of the Hokitika River.  (You will be surprised to know its actually salty).  But I wouldn’t swim here and definitely not with children.  Its too dangerous and the sandflies would also eat you alive.

How to get to the Hokitika Gorge

The Hokitika Gorge is located about 30 minutes from Hokitika township on Whitcombe Valley Road.  There is no public transport to here, so you really do need a vehicle or to be on a tour bus.  This inland route involves a number of turns but it is clearly signposted the whole way there.

Other Awesome Activities on the West Coast

If you are wondering what to do in Hokitika, besides this awesome walk, you can check out sunset on Hokitika Beach, as well as the free Hokitika Glow Worm Dell.    There are also some great things to do on the West Coast. Check them out below

If you are looking for unique accommodation in the area, make sure you check out the cool containers at the beachfront Ross Beach here



Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 9 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

Backyard Travel Family New Zealand. Lets share these articles and spread the love

what you need to know


- Just under 2 hours from Christchurch Airport
-80 mins from Greymouth (West Coast)

The track

- Compacted dirt, easy to walk on
- 15 minutes each way for the original track, or an hour round trip if you complete the new Hokitika Gorge track
- Awesome blue water with swingbridge

Suitable for kids?

- Toddlers: Could easily toddle for as long as you can put up with their pace. Just be careful on the downhill and the rocks
- Preschoolers: Definitely walkable for them as its not too far
- 5 year olds: Easy. Older kids will enjoy bouldering at the end of the trail.


- There is usually a coffee cart on site, or there are other options back in the Hokitika township - Toilets are available between the carpark and the start of the track

What to bring

- It's not a long walk so you won't need much except INSECT REPELLENT

Food options

- Coffee Cart on site (at least in summer when we were there)
- More options back in Hokitika

What the critics thought

I first saw the Hokitka Gorge on Instagram, and now I'm almost embarrassed I didn't know about it earlier. The colour of that water is just incredible. It was our main reason for heading to Hokitika and we found so many other things to do. You won't regret going!
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
Chief Travel Organiser
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