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Hokitika Racecourse Development

Key Projects

This information has been prepared and drawn from multiple sources and is the most up-to-date accurate account of information, as of November 2023. 

The purpose of this page is to provide an overview of information; to support the Westland community’s ability to be informed on details of the Hokitika Racecourse Future Use, prior to future public consultation on recreational reserve development.

Infrastructure Acceleration Fund

The Government’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund (IAF) was launched in June 2021. It is a fund of approximately $1 billion to support new or upgraded bulk infrastructure – such as roading, three waters and flood management – to enable new homes to be built in areas of high housing need.

More information on the IAF is available here.
Westland District Council Project Overview Briefing

On Thursday September 22nd 2022, consultants presented a potential plan for the Hokitika Racecourse residentially zoned land in the confidential section of the Council meeting. The purpose of the presentation was to assist with data necessary to complete the IAF application. 

A resolution was passed to proceed.

Local Body Elections October 2022 – WDC resolution and commitment to engage with community

With a new council it is expected that there will be a new flavour of governance, the new council stated a renewed commitment to community engagement.  Making sure that all voices are heard.

Community Consultation and Engagement

To date community engagement has been through a mix of consultation in a formal process, and engagement in less-formal meetings and workshops.  It is to be recognised that consultation and engagement are two different approaches.  These are the activities of both consultation and engagement that have been undertaken  to date:

Long Term Plan (LTP) submissions

Consultation via a formal submission process in 2021.

WDC discussions with current land users

Engagement with lease holders, users, and event teams on an ongoing basis.

Sport & Recreation Groups (RSL)

Engagement via a series of meetings and workshops in 2021/22

Stakeholder meetings

Engagement directly via meetings with Stakeholder Groups (including iwi) and WDC, on an ongoing basis.

Westland Ratepayers, Residents, Groups etc

Consultation via formal submission process in LTP and Annual Plans


Community drop-in session - 9 December 2024

The community were invited to meet with staff and consultants to review concept ideas for the recreational area and share their feedback.

IAF Fund development options

On Thursday 20 July 2023 the Chief Executive and Consultants presented options to the Council for consideration regarding continuing or withdrawing from the IAF funding for eligible infrastructure.

Council resolved:

  • to initiate an ‘Expression of Interest and Request for Proposal’ (EOI/RFP) process for the Hokitika Racecourse Development, to ascertain best-fit build partner(s) for the project and the community based on the outcomes of the engagement process.
  • Expression of Interest / Request For Proposal is developed for further council consideration
Hokitika Racecourse Development Working Group

Council established a Working Group at the August 2023 Council meeting that will work closely with the project team to ensure that a
community voice to the proposed Hokitika Racecourse Development is carried through into the ROI/RFP process.

The Working Group consists of:

  • Mayor Helen Lash
  • Councillor Gillett
  • Councillor Burden
  • John Strange
  • Rebecca Pearson

The Working Group have worked closely with the project team to provide a community input into the Registration of Interest brief.

The collective messages heard from the Hokitika Racecourse Development Working Group:

  • Seeking aspirational developers who build healthy communities not a ‘cookie-cutter’ one style development.
  • New homes for young families through to retirees, designed for the rugged West Coast conditions, that support the neighbouring community facilities such as Riding for the Disabled and the Boys Brigade.
  • Challenged the project team to find developers that would meet the current and future housing requirements for Hokitika, and incorporate new homes into the existing heritage, cycling, bridle and walking trials.

The Council has chosen to ‘go to the market’ to select residential developers through a Registration of Interest (ROI) and a subsequent Request for Proposal (RFP) process to allow for open and fair competition for the delivery of new homes on part of the Racecourse site.

The ROI phase allows various sized developers, with limited capacity or specific housing experience, to submit an initial proposal to provide some or all of the houses and the arterial trunk road. The Council’s aim is to achieve maximum community benefit by selecting developers aligned with our vision to deliver well designed, safe housing and build healthy communities.

The RFP phase will require developers to submit a more detailed proposal which helps us visualise the overall development, quantify community benefits and give confidence to proceed with land sales to developers, who can deliver the housing outcomes needed in Hokitika.

At each stage of the process, officers will report back to Council providing an opportunity for feedback, prior to proceeding to the next phase.

Revenue from land sales will be used to develop and enhance recreational amenities.

The Community Engagement Report was presented to the July 2023, which discussed the need to advance the Master Planning of the Recreational Development, adjacent reserves and to integrate these with the proposed IAF Infrastructure project and Residential Developments.

In October 2023 Council resolved that further communication and engagement would be undertaken in regard to the recreational land portion of the racecourse.

Masterplanning of this work is programmed to be completed prior to LTP engagement in early 2024.

There are 6 areas of Masterplanning being undertaken:

Recreation Development

Support for multi-use recreation space. Able to host current and future events. Links with RDA, WBB and trail Network. Need for transitional and long-term grazing to support RDA.

Harper Reserve, Reserves and Greenbelt

Further develop Reserves, Heritage trail and enhance accessibility. Transitional grazing.

Access Hill and RDA Integration

Carparking, access and services need to be ratified and improved where possible

Integration with Park and Dalton Street Extensions

Integration with School parking / delivery. Event and Community parking to Park Street extension

Westland Boys Brigade and Superlot 4

Buffer added to residential lots for noise. Carparking, access and services ratified. Historic A&P area developed into multi-use community space. Use as buffer to WBB.

Wider Recreational Linkages

Support for wider Recreational linkages to enhance and support the Recreation Development

Hokitika and racecourse history

Westland has a long history of Maori occupation and, as a result of this, there are many important archaeological sites in the District. The main focus of settlement in Westland was believed to be in the Hokitika area where pounamu was abundant. Access to the District was generally from walking along the sea beach, or through river valley and mountain pass routes because canoe voyaging was a dangerous undertaking on the hazardous Tasman sea.

Most early Maori communities lived in the coastal fringes around river mouths and sheltered bays. Archaeological sites indicate that Maori utilised the pounamu of the District and lived off fish and forest birds. The natural environment held great importance for the Maori, a factor which remains relevant today.

Read about our commitment to consultation and engagement with Mana Whenua.

In its early years of European settlement, Westland’s fame was due to the gold rushes of the 1860s. After the discovery of gold in the Taramakau valley in 1864, prospectors started arriving at the Hokitika River mouth, the closest anchorage to the diggings. At that time, Hokitika was part of Canterbury province. The town was laid out by surveyor John Rochfort, and many street names commemorate Canterbury politicians of this period.

See the Original Hokitika Town Plan below.

Hokitika Townhall speech of 1921

"The reference is to Park Street which was not named after any individual, but was so called because it led the way to the Public Park of something like 200 acres which the founders of Hokitika placed on the outskirts of the town’s eastern boundary, and which is now a municipal endowment.

In addition Park Street leads past Whitcombe and Howitt Squares, each of eleven acres.

There are other educational and endowment areas along the route of the street all undeveloped, so that it is clear the thoughtful founders of the municipal area intended Park Street to be the main thoroughfare tapping all sources for outdoor recreation which should be the lungs of the city to be."

The Westland District Council has a number of zoning plans in place, which are designed to guide development and ensure that the district grows in a sustainable way. The current zoning plans are:

  • The District Plan, which sets out the overall vision for the district and provides guidance on land use, development, and infrastructure.
  • The Hokitika Town Centre Plan, which provides detailed guidance on development in the town centre.
  • The Franz Josef Village Plan, which provides detailed guidance on development in the Franz Josef village.
  • The Fox Glacier Village Plan, which provides detailed guidance on development in the Fox Glacier village.

The Council is currently considering a number of proposed changes to the zoning plans. These changes are designed to address a number of issues, including:

  • The need to provide more housing for the growing population.
  • The need to protect the district's natural environment.
  • The need to create a more vibrant and attractive district.

The current zoning plan of the former Hokitika Racecourse site is shown in the image below.

  • The Residential Mixed zone incorporates the established residential areas as well as potential areas for growth around the old hospital to the north and the racecourse to the northeast. A flexible approach has been adopted for the residential areas which allows a wide range of activities to potentially locate in the zone.
  • The Industrial/Commercial Zone aims to permit a wide range of service and industrial activities in three main areas within Hokitika around Walker Place, East Town Belt/Hau Hau Road, and the airport. The zone recognises existing industrial activities as well as providing a framework within which other industrial and commercial activities can locate.
  • The Racecourse Terraces Development Area – the 7.8ha Racecourse Terrace new development area is subject to a concept plan in order to ensure development proceeds in a manner which protects important environmental features on the site, in particular indigenous vegetation on the escarpment area; and the proposed Council reserve at the northern end of the site. The plan also provides for appropriate pedestrian and vehicle connections with adjoining areas. The retention of the escarpment indigenous vegetation will maintain the natural character of this part of the site, which is the most visible part of the site from Hokitika.
  • The Rural Zone, managed by the Rural Policy Unit, covers all non-urban land within Westland District. Rural-residential areas will be included in the Rural zone. One area at Brickfields previously zoned rural-residential has been included in the Rural zone in recognition that it would be inappropriate to allow development down to small lots. Development in this, and any other rural-residential areas can develop in accordance with resource consents.

New Zealand Racing Industry Review

In 2008 Minister for Racing Winston Peters commissioned Mr John Messara to provide an independent assessment of the New Zealand racing industry (the Messara Report).  The findings from this report form the basis of Racing Industry Bill 2019.

More information on the review and bill is available here
Westland Racing Club (WRC)

On the 11th April 2019 New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, as a result of the Messara report, announced that the Westland Racing Club would no longer race at the Hokitika track.

In November 2019, the Westland Racing Club asked the Westland District Council to consider taking ownership of the WRC land in Hokitika.

Westland District Council (WDC) ownership

At the 12 December 2019 Westland District Council Meeting a report from the Chief Executive, titled Westland Racecourse Land Ownership, was presented to the Mayor and Councillors. 

From this report, and discussion within the meeting, four items were resolved and adopted by council.

Long Term Plan

Westland District Council consulted in the LTP on the long term use of the racecourse, 

a total of 54 submissions were received.

LTP Consultation Document

LTP Consultation Archive


The shortage of affordable homes and rental properties in Hokitika and surrounding towns and settlements is a serious problem that is having a negative impact on the community. There are a number of factors that have contributed to this problem, including:

  • The high cost of properties, which contributes to a shortage of rental stock.
  • The lack of new housing construction
  • The influx of tourists and seasonal workers
  • The aging population

As a result of this shortage, affordable homes / rental properties are scarce to non-existent within Hokitika and surrounding towns and settlements. This is particularly difficult for low-income families, people with disabilities, and people who are new to the area. The lack of affordable housing is also making it difficult for businesses to attract and retain employees. Currently the waitlist for Westland pensioner homes is up to 7 - 10 years.

Te Tai o Poutini Plan (TTPP)

TTPP is the combined District Plan for the Buller, Grey, and Westland District Councils and from 2024 will replace the current individual District Plans for each of these local authorities, while maintaining existing zoning.

See here for further information on TTPP.