Mokihinui (III+/IV)

The Mokihinui is a brilliant packraft trip. You can walk in from the west, stay a night and paddle out. You can head in from the Buller end by bike or foot on the Old Ghost Road, then hop on the river where your skills dictate. If the river isn’t in flood, everything is portageable. If in flood, it’s a risky place in a packraft.


This is most commonly done as a walk-in paddle out trip but there are also options for through trips.

At Mokihinui take Mokihinui Road to the Old Ghost Trail Carpark. Backtrack 50m and familiarise yourself with the take out.

On Foot

It s a pleasant walk up a well graded track that is part of the Old Ghost Trail. Just watch out for Bikers, who are most likely to be coming down-valley! After about 15km you will see the occasional opportunity to drop to the river and start paddling for a shorter trip. Once you reach Specimen Creek you can drop down before the bridge and scramble down to the river. Alternatively carry on to overnight camp on the flats. There is also a hut above Specimen Creek that needs to be booked and is popular with those on the Trail.

On the River

In summer flows it is a cruisy trip with a few rapids up to Class III+ but like many West Coast rivers the paddling difficulty increases significantly with flow. At higher lfows there may be half a dozen rapids that reach class IV.

At the Forks there is a large river flat. This was formed by sedimentation after the 1929 earthquake blocked the river and filled it with the large blocks that make the first kilometre below the forks the most challenging. in 2023 there were a few logs about, so be thorough with your scouting.

Gradually the river eases to a few Class III and lots of contemplative calm stretches. Whilst the best rapids are near the top there is enough to keep you interested the whole way down with rapids all the way to the take-out.

In spring the river is powerful and pushy, but by summer it’s a lot more packraft-friendly.

Below the take-out it is just a float but you could grovel down to the excellent Gentle Annie campground (with Pizza oven for DIY Pizza).

The Gauge

The Gauge is Mokihinui River at Welcome Bay.

View Larger Topographic Map

Other Options

Walk-in from Lyell is an option

Hugh Canard advises that above the Mokihinui Forks the South Branch is easy, and the North branch is Class IV. The upper tributaries to the north are waiting for packrafters. You can access them from the Wangapeka.

One trip report Log your trip

  1. Jace Meng says:

    Went in after a large rain cycle four days before. Spent two nights at specimen hut and enjoyed a day exploring before floating down. Entered via walking directly down specimen creek which required wading in thigh deep water, higher levels may make this uncrossable/dangerous to get to river. Not really any options to enter anywhere above specimen hut until right below Mokihinui forks. Enjoyable flows, but can’t understate that getting back to trail is not really a feasible option if the upper stretch is too much for you to handle. Helped my wife portage several rapids and I would run them in my boat. Below large bridge that collapsed almost a century ago the rapid has some exposed steel that was fairly obvious at my flows, could be a problem if they were barely covered. Overall a challenging, fun, committing run.

    • Date of your trip -22/12/23
    • Estimated/gauge flow -moderate flow
    • When did it last rain and how much? -four days to flood stage
    • How long did it take to paddle the section described here? -8 hours
    • Any new hazards? -

Submit a trip report

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *