Towering peaks, dense rainforest and broad coastal plains dotted with exquisite kayaking lakes like Brunner, Kaniere and Ianthe (remnants of the Ice Age) characterise mid Westland.
A profusion of short, fast-flowing rivers dive off the precipitous slopes of the Southern Alps and spread into terraces and flood plains.
Greymouth and Hokitika nestle on the banks of two of these flood-prone rivers. Both towns make an excellent base for accessing the untamed gorges, limestone caves, glow worm grottos, coastal lagoons, shimmering lakes and rumbling rivers.
The mighty Grey River has a four hour rafting trip through scenic gorges with a backdrop of mountain scenery. This is a fairly technical Grade 3 – 4, full-on float trip, which can be arranged with rafting operators based in Murchison.
The Upper Hokitika River gorge offers an epic heli-kayak experience for expert paddlers. Commercial rafting companies based in Murchison and Peel Forest (Canterbury) offer a Grade 4 – 5, one day heli-rafting trip into the remarkably rugged and isolated Hokitika, as well as a Grade 3 – 5 trip to the Whitcombe River, a major tributary. Both day trips are sensational in terms of the quality of the landscapes and awesome rapids. The Whitcombe often needs scouting and portaging in higher than normal flows. Colliers Gorge, The Crux and the long S-bend rapid will be fixed in your memory long after the big day. These raging rivers are not for the faint hearted.
The Mikonui River flows over shingle flats south of Ross. With moderate rainfall good Grade 2 kayaking can be enjoyed putting in at Gribben Flat.
After a day out on the river, Hokitika provides every home comfort. Take time to inspect the inspirational work of local craftspeople, artists, sculptors and jewellers. There are numerous galleries and retail outlets including fascinating greenstone (jade) displays.
You will leave Westland with lasting memories of scenic splendour and wicked whitewater.