Hokitika was founded as a township in 1864, initially to serve
the local gold rush. The town thrived during this time, and by the
late 1860s boasted a harbour that was second only to Auckland's in
terms of the traffic it handled. As the town was so busy, it became
the official port of entry to the West Coast. The Customhouse still
stands in the town today.
When the gold rush finished, the town's population dwindled. The
harbour was still busy, but a lack of coal in the area meant that
it was not sustainable in the long term. But it did remain an
official entry port until the 1950s. Hokitika is perhaps best known
today for its jade, as the green stone was discovered in the
vicinity. There is a wonderful factory detailing the process of
creating jade items and jewellery, detailing the process from
extraction to completion.