The Kakariki Canyon run on the Hokitika River is an ideal first helicopter trip and if you have some class III boaters they can wait at the Hokitika/Whitcombe confluence and still have a fun trip out from there. If it is a sunny day make sure to allow time at the put in to lounge on the sun-baked rocks and enjoy the location.
Begin with some eddy-hopping through class III boulder gardens into a short, scenic, water worn schist gorge which is perfect for photography. The river opens to two rapids which are the hardest in the run. They are both fed by slip debris and change regularly and weigh in at the easy class IV range. Scouting and portaging is generally done on the left side and don’t spend too much time hanging around as debris tumbles down the slip regularly. Lots of fun class III boulder gardens take you on down to the Hokitika/Whitcombe confluence. At higher flows, greater than 40 cumecs, the whole trip is a pumping rollercoaster ride, but is so quick you’ll be wondering if it was worth the cost of the helicopter. At any flow this is a short trip and you’ll have energy left to make the most of the fun hydraulics spread liberally down the rest of the run. Late summer flows below 15 cumecs make the trip not worth doing.
To get to the take out: the lowest take out will be at the bottom of the Hokitika Gorge. Check with the helicopter pilot as to the status of any roads. To get to the put in: The put in is on a gravel bar below Kawau Gorge.