North West Bay River

Canoe Tas Inc

South East

North West Bay River

Betts Road Bridge to Margate Bridge
Huon Hwy to Margate Bridge




Distance: 14 km full trip, 10km Huon Hwy to Margate section.
Average Grade: 15 m/km.
Peak Grade: 60m/km for the first km.
Difficulty: Depending on water level, low levels scratchy 2-3 increasing to Hard Grade 4+.
Paddling Time: 2 hours.
Entry Point: Rarely used these days – Betts Road Bridge (Grid ref. EN 168 440), 1 km from Huon Rd (B64), 2 km north of Longley, or alternatively at Longley Hotel.
Most common entry –  Huon Hwy (A6) where it crosses the river. Access to the river is down a track 100 east of the bridge (300m east of the Sandfly Rd/Longley intersection) on the southern side of the road.  NWB Sandfly Get-In Huon Hwy
Exit Point: The Margate Bowls club on the left bank just after the Margate Bridge (on the Channel Highway, B68) (Grid ref. DN 215 366).
NWB Margate Get-out point – Bowls Club
Water Level:  As at June 2020 the gauge on the Margate Bridge is gone.

DPIPWE Water Portal has an automated gauge at the Margate Water Supply Weir, 2km up from the Margate Bridge exit. DPIPWE Water Portal   Site 5201-1 gives ML/Day and Cumec readings updated every 2 hours roughly, but it occasionally is off line so double check the reading time and date.

  • 15 Cumecs is scratchy in parts but a good intro height as it is easy Grd 3
  • 20 Cumecs is a nice intro level, Grd 3 like all the best bits of the Mersey below Rowallan joined up for 9kms with harder bits interspersed very regularly. Not fun to swim though.
  • 25 Cumecs is bouncy Grd 3+, fun but continuous and harder, swims would be bad due to the lack of pools and frequent wood/trees, good roll skills required.
  • 30-40 Cumecs is continuous Grd 3-4, some quite chunky holes and requires good read and run skills and a bomb-proof roll as it doesn’t stop and barely slows down.
  • With more water it just keeps getting bigger, more confused, more serious stoppers and holes, bigger consequences and boulders may be rolling down the river under you.
Tasmap: 1:100 000 Derwent, D’Entrecasteaux (Land Tenure Index Series).
Shuttle:  9km, about a 10 minute drive or a 30 minute ride along Sandfly Road (C622).
General Description: The river only flows after at least 18 hours of continuous rain. The water level drops very quickly. From Betts Road to Longley, there is 3 km of fast continuous grade 3 water – this is rarely done as it is often log choked at key points. From Longley to the Huon Highway is mainly shingle rapids, but as above very susceptible to logs.

Most popular – Huon Hwy to Margate:  This section of the North West Bay River at moderate levels it is a good Grade 3 trip, a nice step up from rivers like the Picton and Mersey below Rowallan. At low levels it can be quite scratchy to start but enjoyable. At high levels it becomes a Grade 4+ river with continuous rapids, few eddies and some big holes. It flows infrequently (generally after a good, wet easterly weather system).

From the Huon Highway it starts with a weir which can be run on the left safely at most heights. It is continuous, fast but easy Grade 3 increasing to 3+ at 20 Cumecs  and 3-4 above 30 Cumecs and 4+ above 40 Cumecs. At all levels is has long confused wave trains increasing in size/complexity with more water, interspersed with frequent stoppers/holes which also increase in size and consequence with increased water. Trees in the river (and occasionally fences) are always a possibility so keep an eye out.  The water volume will increase significantly through the trip due to many substantial side creeks/rivulets. Don’t drink the water anywhere on the trip due to significant pollution from agricultural run-off.

About 5 km after the Huon Highway is a weir. Caution must be taken paddling this due to the weir stopper. The rapid immediately after the weir consists of two offset and surprisingly large stoppers and a large rooster tail, hence its name, “Chicken Man Falls”. Another 2 km downstream is an old broken weir on the right side of the river on a 90 degree left hand bend.  This can be skirted around on the left hard against the tea tree through a gap which may get smaller as the trees grow.

And just above the Margate Bridge there is often one last good surf wave to finish – at 35 Cumecs this is a premium series of 4 surfable waves and a good eddy. If your skills aren’t up to paddling the trip, shuttle bunny for others and walk up from the get-out and have a surf.

Exit on the left below the Bridge.

Updated:  23 June 2020


North West Bay River 27/6/09 – 18 Cumecs Approx.

North West Bay
North West Bay river 27/6/09 18 Cumecs Approx