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A rare spotlight shone on Hokitika on New Zealand South Island this week, as the setting for ''The Luminaries'', the Man Booker-winning novel by Eleanor Catton. Curious visitors will find plenty of interest.
Local media reported there was only one copy of ‘The Luminaries’ left in Hokitika on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island yesterday morning. Not surprisingly, perhaps: the day before, the novel, written by the 28-year-old New Zealander Eleanor Catton and set in the picturesque seaside town during the area’s 1860s mining boom, was declared this year’s Man Booker prize winner.
Julia Bradshaw of the Hokitika Museum told 3 news: "People are going to want to see where the story was set and I think it''s a really good thing."
Here are 10 activities on offer – suggested by Tourism New Zealand – to those following the trail of the world created in the book.
Join the gold rush
Eleanor Catton‘s novel is set at the height of the gold rush in the 1860s. The largest gold nugget ever found (2.8kg) was unearthed in Ross – 30km (18.5 miles) south of Hokitika – in 1909. Visitors can try their luck panning in the historic goldfields of Ross and Goldsborough. You can even buy your own gold pan and try your luck in an official fossicking area.
Cycle the West Coast Wilderness Trail
The West Coast Wilderness Trail will be an-120km long (74.5 miles), four-day cycle trail running through historical gold and rail trails between Ross and Greymouth, passing through Hokitika along the way.
It passes from coast to wetlands, rainforest and lakes, and is an exhilarating way to see the area.
Take the TranzAlpine train journey
The TranzAlpine Rail Journey from Christchurch to Greymouth (north of Hokitika) has been rated as one of the ‘top six train journeys in the world’. The train passes through 16 tunnels and several viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys.
Go hunting and gathering
Hokitika’s Wildfoods festival is a weekend where everything from huhu beetle grubs to seagull eggs are fair game. It shows off the culinary creativity of the area, including live entertainment and cooking demonstrations.
March 8 2014
wildfoods.co.nz or newzealand.com/uk/event/the-hokitika-wildfoods-festival/
Walk through the treetops
The exhilarating new West Coast Treetops Walkway, 20m above the forest floor, winds for more than 450 metres through rainforest giants in the Lake Mahinapua Scenic Reserve.
Go “tramping” (walking) in the bush
The west coast of New Zealand is great for walkers. For an easy gold rush-inspired bush walk try the Ross Historic Goldfields walks, starting 30km south of Hokitika.
The one-hour loop Water Race track climbs to an old hillside channel, which it follows through regenerating native forest, numerous old gold workings, tunnels, several dam sites and a replica miner''s hut.
Within Hokitika itself, the Gorge Walk provides stunning views of the Hokitika gorge and river from the swing bridge. For a longer day ''tramp'', head to Goldsborough – once a thriving mining settlement – where walks range from four hours one way.
Hit the rapids
There are plenty of white-water rafting and kayaking opportunities in Hokitika – with rivers dropping from the Southern Alps to the sea. There are level 1 and 2 rapids for beginners while the more adventurous can enjoy “hell runs” – through sheer gorges and back country wilderness