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Hoitika Gorge

Home > Queenstown > Free | Lookouts | Nature | Outdoor | Walks
by Thomas Sylva (subscribe)
International travel enthusiast and expat from New Zealand, currently living in Germany.
Published March 11th 2017
Cold water worth photographing
Hidden away on the West Coast of the South Island is Hokitika Gorge, a roughly thirty minute awkward drive through the farmlands (though well signposted) from the township of Hokitika. This is one of those places where the water is absolutely impossibly blue, and is well worth the diversion for anybody travelling down the West Coast.

There is a carpark when you arrive at the gorge and then a very short and easy walk to the first lookout. The path crosses over a suspension bridge and down to the water's edge where you could potentially sit and have a picnic if you are willing to put up with the sandflies. If you're feeling brave, you could go for a dip in the water, but as ever, when the water is so beautiful and blue it's also absolutely freezing. Maybe one for the summer months...

The reason the water has this surreal and iridescent colour is because it comes from glacial melt, and as the ice is flowing through the mountains it pushes up against the granite and rocks and accumulates this dust that reacts with the sunlight to create a milky blue colour. In contrast to the green forest and the grey cliffs, it's dramatic, stunning, and Instagram-worthy. While just a short stop for most people, their photos are probably amongst their favourite of the South Island.

It's a fantastic 45 minute stop to make and doesn't lead you too far from the main road down the coast. If you are not in a rush to get from Greymouth to Franz Josef, I highly recommend it. Just make sure to have some insect repellent with you. Please note, this isn't in Queenstown, however that is the closest location listed.
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Why? Beautiful photos, amazing nature
When: Always
Where: Hokitika
Cost: Free!
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