From the protected waters of Tasmania’s harbour towns, to the raging rivers of the western wilds, there’s no denying this lush little island is a paddler’s playground. Exploring by kayak, raft or canoe can be as serene or extreme as you like. Regardless of your experience or adrenaline levels, an adventure on one of Tasmania’s many beautiful waterways adds a splash of ‘wow’ to any holiday.
Capture capital views of Hobart’s waterfront
Travellers arriving in Hobart with young paddlers shouldn’t look past a relaxing kayaking tour around one of the prettiest harbours in the world. A 2.5 hour kid-friendly tour showcases the capital from its most flattering angle. Be dwarfed by the timber tall ships and giant cruise liners, watch out for dolphins, seals and sea stars through the crystal water, and finish up with a fish and chip lunch from a floating fish punt – devoured right there in your yak. Yum!
Raft the Twin Rivers
The Picton and Huon Rivers are classic Hobart whitewater adventures the whole family can take part in. Water levels and weather rarely affect the success of the trip which, in the right conditions will see you bouncing through rapids up to grade three (i.e. fun without the fear factor!) On a 9km tour you’ll get a taste of Tassie’s World Heritage wilderness from which the river emerges, with huon pines and eucalypts towering on all sides.
Find flatwater magic in King River Gorge
There are sections of the King River, located in the southwest, that offer a similar grade three rapids experience to Picton. However if you want to skip the white stuff, opt for a trip in the middle of the gorge between Crotty Dam and the John Butters Power Station. Here, you can “bushwalk on water” through mirror pools and shallow rapids flanked by the tall, forested gorge walls. Paddle at your leisure to make the most of various creeks and waterfalls, spot crayfish and fish through the pristine (read: drinkable) water and maybe even find gold in the gravel riverbed. This is flatwater at its finest.
Did you know you can find and book a whole heap of Tasmanian paddling tours on your CamperMate app?
Discover Dove Lake – without the crowds
Dove Lake has been tragically typecast as Cradle Mountain’s personal mirror, but it has oh-so much more to give. All you have to do is paddle away from the crowds. Kayaking or canoeing the glassy tea-coloured water of this iconic alpine lake is relatively easy, but a moderate level of fitness is recommended to join a four to five hour guided trip. Since parking at Dove Lake is often the real challenge, you should ask your accommodation provider or check out local tour operators.
Canoe into the forgotten Tarkine Wilderness
Staying in the northwest a little longer, don’t miss the chance to explore the ancient Tarkine wilderness the traditional way – from a peaceful water perspective. The wide, slow moving Pieman River will guide you through thick rainforest and to waterfalls only accessible by water. Detour a short way into the Savage River mouth to arrive at Australia’s furthest inland shipwreck (and platypus hotspot) the SS Croydon. If you’re feeling energetic, paddle from Corinna to where river-meets-sea at Pieman Heads, approximately 20km one way. A great way to take the “thinking” out of your northwest paddling adventure is to book a multi-day Tarkine tour combined with Dove Lake.
Kayak beneath soaring sea cliffs
While Cape Hauy is regarded as one of Tassie’s best short walks, there’s no better place than sea level to appreciate the staggering scale of Australia’s highest sea cliffs. Launching from Hobart, embark on a five-hour adventure that provides incomparable views of the Tasman Peninsula’s 200m fluted rock formations and rugged sea caves. An abundance of wildlife calls Tasman National Park and its surrounding waters home – expect to see fur seals, eagles, cormorants, gannets, dolphins and, with the right timing and a bit of luck, migrating whales.
Glide to paradise from Coles Bay
While a day paddle is enough to be awed by the Freycinet Peninsula’s pink granite mountains and secluded crescent beaches, the protected western coast is the perfect location for your first overnight sea kayaking adventure – fully catered with local guides of course. Glide to Hazards Beach and check out the one and only Wineglass Bay, sharing the jewel-blue water with dolphins, seabirds and resting southern right whales.
Try trout fishing at Tullah’s lakes
Phone signal gradually drops out as you get closer to little-known Tullah, tucked away in Tassie’s northwest. Tullah was established as a hydroelectric settlement so it’s no surprise to find the town surrounded by stunning lakes. Lake Mackintosh and Lake Rosebury are both close to town and stocked with trout. For full immersion in these glassy forest-hemmed lakes – and for ease of reeling in dinner – opt for a pedal-powered yak, and don’t forget your Tasmanian fishing permit.
Tackle the mighty Franklin River descent
The Franklin River isn’t for the inexperienced nor the faint hearted. Tumbling through Tasmania’s southwest wilderness, the Franklin drops more than 1400m between its source and junction with the Gordon River, and takes anywhere from eight to 14 days to descend. For one of the world’s greatest wild rivers to grant you access is a humbling feeling, not to mention you’ll be immersed night and day in untamed Tassie beauty, from frothing whitewater and deep gorges, to quiet pools and lush temperate forest. Joining a group with experienced guides will ensure the Franklin River challenge is a safe one.