Hokitika is one of the nicest towns on the West Coast. It has a beach and a few old buildings from the gold rush era, but the main attraction is greenstone jade (pounamu), which is mined nearby and carved in town. The jade shops cater for the tourist coaches that pass through, although otherwise it is a fairly quiet place.
Hokitika is also home to the annual Wild Foods Festival, which is held each March when around 20,000 people descend upon the small town to try such delicacies as earthworms, grasshoppers, huhu grubs, snails, sheep’s eyes and hare’s testicles.
If you’re heading south, Hokitika is the last sizable town before Wanaka, so take the opportunity to buy groceries, fill the car with fuel and use the ATM machines since you may not have the chance to do this for a while.