West Coast rivers are the source of pounamu (jade), which has long been a precious resource for the South Island Māori people, Ngai Tahu. Hokitika is recognized as the center for artists and carvers who create stunning jewelry, from pounamu and other mediums. The town is filled with studios and galleries where you can watch the artists at work, and perhaps take home something special. Wood carvings, pottery, textiles, and photography are also showcased in the galleries, mostly found along Tancred and Weld streets.
Westland Greenstone. Westland Greenstone has an interesting walk-through workshop where you can watch greenstone being cut, shaped, and polished. Unlike some places Westland uses local greenstone (pounamu) rather than imported jade. Check when you're buying that it's the real thing and not an imported stone. 34 Tancred St., 7810. 03/755–8713.
Gallery Co-operative. At the Hokitika Craft Gallery Co-operative works from local artists, including greenstone carvings, pottery, woodwork, and textiles, is showcased and for sale. 25 Tancred St., 7810. 03/755–8802.
Jade Factory. Jade Factory is the largest outlet in New Zealand to showcase pounamu, with greenstone cutting and carving areas, and an extensive shop. Two or more artists are usually at work, plus they offer three tours each day which relates the history of pounamu, its significance to the Māori people, and its uses. There's also a stone-painting artist at work here and a cafe. 41 Weld St., 7810. 03/755–8007.