The character of the Wanganui is different from other West Coast rivers, dropping sharply out of the Alps, but easing off without flowing through any gorges.
From just above the Lambert/Wanganui junction is a great class III intermediate trip and an excellent proposition for a first helicopter trip. The gradient drops right off to 9.5m/km and enjoyable class III water, except for one class IV-V rapid. This rapid (Slip Rapid) is about 4 kilometres from the Lambert/Wanganui junction and is easy to spot from above. Run the rapid or portage on the right side.
A soak in the hot pools in Hot Spring Stream (on the left 2 kilometres before the take out) is a great way to finish the trip. Walk 100 metres up the stream on the true left and dig out a pool to sit in. The quarry site on river right indicates the take out.
To get to the take out: from Hokitika drive south for 45 - 60minutes. A road heads off to the left just as you are about to cross the Wanganui River. Follow this for about 3 kilometres. As you get to the river there is a good parking and helicopter landing spot.