West Coast rivers can be pretty intimidating. If you want a gentler option but still with a wilderness feel, fantastic views of the Southern Alps, rain forested gorges and waterfalls then the Mikonui just south of Ross is a great option. And Ross is a cool little town to hang out in. There are few other rivers on the Coast which combine the accessibility, grade 2 water and wilderness feel. All round a great day out.
Thanks to Kelvin Montagu and Liz Saunders for the information and photos.
Shuttle; From Mikonui Bridge, SH6 to Totara Valley Road
A 25 km car scuffle is required. You could try asking at the pub or local store if you need help with the shuffle.
The take out is on river left of the Mikonui bridge on SH6, 4.5 km past Ross. This is also a good time to check water level as there is no gauge.
To get to the put in point head back through Ross towards Hokitika, turn off SH6 onto the Totara Valley Road (a couple of km north of Ross). Totara Valley Road is a mix of 2wd mixed sealed and gravel road. This road frequently gets damaged by rain so 4wd may be useful.
At the Totara Valley Road end walk across the river flats to the main channel. The paddle could be extended by walking further upstream to Mikonui Flat hut (3km) or Dick Spur Hut (10 km). The upper part of the Mikonui River has been packrafted and as with all coast rivers it is a more serious trip the higher you start.
Mikonui River (II/III) from Totara Valley Rd to SH6 bridge.
Under normal flows it’s a nice grade 2 trip with one grade 3 rapid. Nothing tricky on the river and all rapids can be portaged if needed. Red Granite creeks waterfalls are worth a look (river left near the start).
In high flows (ie river turbulent and near breaching the banks) it is a high volume grade 3 paddle with large waves and some big holes.
Visual at the SH6 road bridge.
The Mikonui River has a smaller catchment than the bigger Coast rivers making it’s a good option after heavy rain as it drops quickly. But beware the road access can be interesting. When we paddled the river there had been 180mm in the last 48hours..