A mellow out and back trip to a neat hut, with options for side trips or as a starting point for bigger adventures. There’s some good fishing up around the Hut. There’s a little bit of class II further up the Wilkin Valley, but it quickly gets very steep with huge boulder gardens (class IV-V).
The Wilkin Valley Track
About 4-5hrs to Kerin Forks Hut. From the end of Wilkin Rd, you’ll need to cross the various braids of the Makarora River. This can be quite a challenging crossing at times, so assess it carefully, and if in doubt use your packraft! .
After the crossing, you are on private farm land, so be respectful of the property, leave gates as you found them and don’t disturb any animals. Eventually you’ll find a DOC sign on the north bank, which indicates the start of the track.
If the Wilkin is low, then it may be faster in places to just follow the river bed rather than the track. This will require wet boot crossings in places.
Kerin Forks Hut isn’t visible from the River, so keep an eye out for a large grassy terrace on river left.
For more info check out the DOC web page about The Gillespie Pass Circuit
Wilkin River (I+)
The Wilkin is a large braided river, which is relatively shallow and slow moving between the riffles. There are a number of small number of wave trains and mini rapids, but none really require any skill or manouevering to get through.
There are a few places with strainers near the river bank, but the greatest danger on this river is Jet Boats. Wilkin River Jet run regular trips up and down the river. So its probably worth giving them a call before your trip to let them know you’ll be paddling. You can also ask about river levels and conditions. If you’re feeling especially lazy, you could even pay for a Jetboat transfer up to the hut!
You’ll have to carry your boats a little to get back to your car at the end of the paddle.
There is a gauge on the Wilkin, and apparently you can contact Otago Regional Council by phone to get the reading. A better option is to call up Wilkin River Jets to enquire about river conditions and let them know you’ll be paddling.