Another wild west coast valley and river, with rough tracks, a great hut and magnificent scenery.
This trip page is for inspiration only, and is collated by the editor of this site from many sources of information. These are cited in the text below. Featured image is credit to Dulkara Martig.
Wanganui Valley Track to Hunters Hut
About 5 hours of solid west coast valley track travel up to Hunters Hut.
Take a look at the DOC webpage on the Wanganui Valley to learn more about the huts and track descriptions.
The Wanganui River (III / V) from Hunters Hut
Mostly a class III paddle, with one class IV/V rapid which is easy to see from above and to portage.
Take a look at Dulkara Martig’s blog post on this trip and feast your eyes on Dean Parkers video above.
Also worth reading the Lower Wanganui river description on Rivers.org.nz.
One trip report Log your trip
We paddled just the lower section from Hot Spring Flat back to the carpark near the state highway bridge.
The track is initially very quick going as it follows an old 4×4 track (locked gate) through some farm paddocks and then through regenerating bush. The first ~3kms are flat and wide. Past Canopy Bluff the 4×4 track goes steeply uphill to avoid the river and eventually deteriorates into a typical west coast tramping track. The main challenge here is that the river keeps eating away the track, so in places the route goes high into the bush away from river level. Once we hit Shearers Flat we cut across the river bed to a point directly across from Hot Spring Flat.
Crossing the Wanganui at this point is swift and deep, especially at good packrafting flows. Would recommend blowing up your packraft and paddling across to the hot pools – although trampers do cross on foot here. It took us 1.45 hours to walk to this point from the start.
There are two sets of hot pools surround Hot Springs Flat. The first is ~100m away from the Wanganui river at the base of the hill (true right of Hot Spring Creek). When we were there these were deep and hot… great place for a soak! The other set of hot pools is a few hundred meters up Hot Spring Creek on a terrace (true right). We didn’t bother with these hot pools because they were shallow and not very warm. But it looked to be good camping around there.. flat and grassy, probably out of the main valley wind too.
After a soak in the hot pools, the river trip down is thoroughly enjoyable grade 2 (with one rapid requiring some maneuvering around a boulder – possibly 2+). The rapids are typically wave trains with a straight run down the middle, although some larger boulders add some interest. At the flow we did it at, the waves were big bouncy and deep. You could portage/scout any of the rapids.
Takeout on river right when you see the rock wall armoring. It took us maybe 30 minutes to paddle back down from Hot Springs Flat.
Thoroughly recommend the trip as a quick day option, and we’ll be back to explore the harder rapids further up the valley!