You may have heard about the BBC’s latest offering that’s coming to our screens on June 21st. The Luminaries is an exciting dramatisation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-Winning novel set during New Zealand’s 19th Century gold rush and is penned to be one of the best series of the year. 

Set to air at 9pm on BBC 1, the 6-part series is described as an “intricately woven, suspenseful tale of love, murder, magic and revenge” and stars some of the worlds most renowned actors of stage and screen – and not forgetting a host of Antipodean actors, too.

But that’s not all, to be as authentic as possible and at the insistence of the author, the series was filmed right where it all began; the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island with Hokitika taking centre stage. 

Things to See and Do in Hokitika

We can see why it was important that the series be filmed on location in New Zealand. “Hokitika still has a frontier feel”, say’s our managing director John Lightwood. As a result, we often recommend a short stay here when visiting the South Island and travelling to the West Coast. With attractive early buildings, stunning views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and an incredible beach which practically laps the main street, it’s hard not to love what Hokitika has to offer. 

Hokitika is also renowned throughout New Zealand for its arts and crafts scene, noted as having more galleries and studios per capita than anywhere else in the country. You can wander around the town watching artists at work, view incredible art installations and even get up close and personal with the likes of woodturners, painters, glass blowers, potters, jewellers and textiles artists to name a few. In true Kiwi style, they’re always happy to stop, have a chat and talk about what they’re doing, too!  

But that’s not all, Hokitika is also known as the home of pounamu, or New Zealand greenstone as it’s often called. Just north of the town lies the Arahura River and is one of only a handful of pounamu bearing rivers in the South Island, making it one of the rarest semi-precious gemstones in the world. It’s highly valued by the Māori people, and hardstone carvings made from pounamu play an important role in Māori culture. Hokitika is a vital stop to learn about the stone and to watch it being carved, you can even pick up a piece for yourself or a loved one as a memento of your trip. 

Where to stay in Hokitika

When visiting Hokitika, we always recommend to our guest’s the Teichelmanns Bed & Breakfast. Built in 1910 by Ebeneezer Teichelmann to be both his home and medical rooms, the clapboard style and frontier charm is straight out of The Luminaries era. Not only that, it’s just a few steps away from the town’s independent cafes, pounamu workshops and galleries, allowing you to totally immerse yourself in Hokitika life. Oh, and the breakfasts are legendary, too! 

If the West Coast of the South Island and Hokitika is somewhere you’d like to add to your bucket list, our 14-day South Island Spectacular independent tour is the one for you. Taking in the Southern Alps by TransAlpine rail to the West Coast landing in Greymouth, you’ll then get to experience Hokitika in all its glory with an overnight stay, before moving on to the spectacular Fox Glacier, Wanaka and the incredible Fiordland region. The package includes flights, a stopover, 13 night’s New Zealand accommodation in character B&Bs and 4-star hotels, car hire and the TranzAlpine rail journey. Prices start from just £2025. 

If you’d like to learn more about this life changing trip, don’t hesitate to get in touch!