Glow Worms and Blue Gorges in Hokitika, New Zealand’s West Coast

Glow Worms and Blue Gorges in Hokitika, New Zealand’s West Coast

Rob and I headed south along the west coast road from Motueka for the final few days of our trip. Highway 6 is known as a famously beautiful drive in New Zealand, with lush rain forests and beaches along the way. It’s also, in the classic New Zealand style, a fairly slow two lane road with lots of one lane bridges and camper vans.

New Zealand West Coast trip

Our plan was to drive to the famed Punakaiki area for a brief beach hike. However, rain forests do tend to rain a lot and it was unappealingly pouring when we got there.

Punakaiki Forest New Zealand

Straight on to Hokitika instead, where the storm clouds were just clearing when we arrived. This is 5:00 on main street, Saturday night, at the peak of summer tourist season.

Hokitika, New Zealand

Town runs alongside miles and miles of open beach. Hokitika puts on a driftwood art contest every January.

Hokitka's famous driftwood

New Zealand has 18 historic carnegie libraries, including this formidable example that Hokitika has turned into a civic museum. It’s ambitiously sized for a town that is still under 3,000 residents.

Free library in Hokitika, New Zealand

Rob and I had pizza for dinner in one of the few restaurants open downtown and then headed to our really nice camping spot between the beach and a lighthouse at Shining Star.

Camping in Hokitika, New Zealand

You have to wait until it’s really dark before going hunting for glowworms, so Rob and I took a dusk hike along the beach.

Hokitika Beach in New Zealand

The driftwood sculptures make for interesting obstacles as you walk along the sand. This hand was about 7 feet tall!

Hokitika, New Zealand

Around 9:30, we crossed the road behind our campsite for the glow worm dell. With hushes voices and no lights, we walked carefully along a dirt path doing our best to avoid the other sight-seers. At first, it looked like light coming through the trees, but once we adjusted we could see hundreds and hundreds of blue green glow worms all along the sides. So magical!

Hokitika New Zealand Glow Worms

We stopped by the dell in the morning to get a sense of how big the space was and to see if we could spot any sign of the worms in the day. Absolutely no trace – just like we dreamed it.

Hokitika, NZ

Rob headed off toward the mountains behind Hokitika and I went to town for a coffee and a cheese scone and a popular local bakery.

Hokitika Town, New Zealand

We were headed to the famous Blue Gorge that is about a 30 minute drive through pretty farm land and rivers east of Hokitika.

Driving to the Blue Gorge, New Zealand

We hiked along a lush rain forest trail with massive tree ferns.

Hokitika, New Zealand

All kinds of interesting mosses and mushrooms along the way too.

New Zealand mossy log

Unfortunately, the Blue Gorge was more milky turquoise when we were there due to silt from the recent rain storm maybe. But still very pretty.

Hokitika Gorge Hike, NZ

Bridge over Blue Gorge, New Zealand

Ferns in Hokitika, NZ

We loaded Rob’s bike back on our rental car and headed for glacier country – our next stop along Highway 6 in New Zealand!

Driving in New Zealand

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Website: EmilyStyle

I'm an adventurer and founder of a brand strategy studio. I'm so lucky to work abroad for a couple months each year. Weekly dinner parties and picking what to wear when I'm at home in San Francisco. I love a tough challenge, email [email protected] to reach me.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. D at 5:35 am

    I loved reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which is set in Hokitika during the NZ gold rush. Enjoying your travelogue and hope the weather is great for you in the glaciers.

    • MrsEm Author at 10:22 am

      The town map had all the places she mentioned in the book highlighted. I’m going to add it to my reading list!