Department of Conservation Approved

Kayak Hire Choices

Hire a kayak from $30 per single and $40 per double kayak for one hour

Please note: All kayak rentals require a safety briefing before getting on the water. Our kayak safety briefings take place at our kayak shed, once completed we will put you on the water (approx 300 metres away from our kayak shed) at our tour start destination in Papatowai The Catlins.
We ask you are all on time, times below include safety briefing 30 minutes approx. 

Paddlers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 

All freedom kayak rental customers are fully responsible for their own safety, and our equipment once hired.

All hire prices below are per kayak. (Single kayak: 1 adult. Double kayak, 2 adults or 1 adult and 1 child). Phone, email us or simply use the secure bookit button to book today.

  • Two hour rental
  • Double kayak $59 Single kayak $45
  • Morning hire 8.30 am- 11 am
  • Afternoon hire 12.30 pm - 3 pm

Ideal for first time paddlers, families or if your short on time. 

  • Half day rental (up to 4 hours)
  • Double kayak $69 Single kayak $55
  • Morning hire 8.30 am - 1 pm
  • Afternoon hire 12.30pm - 5 pm

Our most popular kayak choice, allows you to explore the bay and rivers. Watch the wildlife and soak up the smell and sounds of pristine nature.

  • Full day rental (up to 8 hours)
  • Double kayak $89 Single kayak $65
  • 8.30 am - 5 - pm

Take your time and explore proper. Take a paddle to the end of the river, laze around or study the rare fauna and flora Papatowai has to offer.

  • Dawn chorus 5.30 am - 8.30 am
  • Double kayak $79 Single kayak $60 
  • Paddle early and enjoy the morning bird song 
  • Safety briefing must be completed the previous evening due to early start

Experience an early morning paddle enjoy listening to the dawn chorus. Watch the wildlife starting their day, its a special time to be out and about on the water. You can start your kayak hire from 5.30am and customise your hire period if you would like a longer hire time. Please contact us for more info.

  • Evening paddle 4.30 pm - 8.30 pm
  • Double kayak $69 Single kayak $55   

Enjoy the evening on the water and watch the sun setting.


Overnight kayak rental 24 hour rental Double kayak $99 Single kayak $75 For those who want a true unspoiled ‘get away from it all’ experience. Please contact us for more information. 

Contact us

SAFETY BRIEFING All of our kayak rental options start with a full safety briefing on kayaking routes and options, paddling techniques (please see below link for Paddling Techniques), tides and weather conditions, bird/wildlife watching and kayak safety. Allow 30 minutes prior to getting on the water.  Your safety is our priority! 


  • How far can i paddle?  There is over 25 kilometers of river and estuary paddling to experience. From 2 hours to 8 hours, experienced or novice paddler, our kayak hire options will suit everyone.
  • If you are hiring one of our Kayaks you MUST be able to SWIM.
  • Do I need previous experience?

    No. Many of our kayakers are first timers or have little experience.  We will enquire about your swimming ability and will not put you out on the water if we consider the weather or water conditions to be unsuitable. We want you to enjoy your experience. A full safety and familiarisation briefing is given to all kayakers. 

  • Can I kayak on my own?  NO, for safety reasons NO solo paddlers.
  • How do I book?

    Give us a call or email us! or use the bookit buttons.

  • Is there a minimum age?

    No children under the age of three, all kayakers must be able to sit up unaided, and No maximum age either! Kayaking is suitable for all ages, you can go as fast or as slow as you like. Better still just drift and take in all the sights and sounds! Papatowai is an ideal place to kayak and a great place for everyone to explore. 

  • What if the weather is bad?

    We keep a really close eye on weather, for wind and rain, and will always be honest with you about expected conditions. Our weather here on the coast is often much better than it is inland or at Balclutha for example. New Zealand is famous for four seasons in one day! It could be showers or rain an hour away and sunny in Papatowai or vice versa. Therefore, if you wake up and it’s raining where you are, give us a call and we’ll tell you what the weathers doing here at Papatowai.
    We don’t cancel kayak trips for light rain or showers; the estuary and rivers are still beautiful to go paddling in with light rain. Bring a raincoat and splash pants if you have them.There is always a sheltered spot on the river to kayak. If weather conditions are unsafe for kayaking, we will re-book you on another hire option or time to suit.

  • Is the Estuary tidal?

    Yes, tides influence the height of water in the estuary, and the direction the water flows, in or out of the estuary. The great thing about Papatowai for kayaking is that no matter the tide there is always somewhere to paddle.
    Just give us a call to ask about tides on any day, and we’ll suggest the best times to go kayaking depending on tides and weather; so you get the most out of your paddle. Don’t pay any attention to published coastal tides, as the estuary tides work quite differently depending on recent rainfall, moon phases, and estuary mouth condition etc.

  • Will I get wet?

    That depends a lot on your kayaking technique! We’ll help you with that, and go through a full safety briefing with you before you kayak. We work through some paddling technique before you get on your kayak. 
    Wearing quick-drying clothing of the type you would go hiking in helps, as does bringing a good waterproof jacket and pants, but we will provide you with a buoyancy aid to wear at all times on the water. Our Kayaks are super-stable double or single kayaks, designed and made in New Zealand for NZ conditions. The estuary and rivers are really calm and you are never far from the shore, in fact exploring close to the shore is the best fun. We don’t kayak at all on the sea, just the estuary and flat water rivers. We will let you know the estuary limits during the safety briefing.  

  • How fit do I need to be?

    We are lucky in that Papatowai is a great place for novice kayakers to get out on the water and explore. When the tidal conditions are right, the tidal flow of the estuary helps your kayak drift up and down the waterways, and fitness is not a big issue. But, remember, you are self-powered! Some effort is still involved.
    We’ll happily advise on the best route and time for each day’s kayaking depending on those conditions and your own strength and interests. 

Department of Conservation Approved

WHERE TO FIND US Papatowai is a small peaceful village on the Southern Scenic Route of the South Island New Zealand. Papatowai is about 45 minutes drive south from Balclutha. 1.45 minutes from Dunedin and 1.30 minutes from Invercargill.  Look out for our Kayak Hire signs in Papatowai village.

Papatowai Freedom Kayak Hire 
2519 Papatowai Highway Papatowai
PH: 02102412925

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+64 02102412925

2519 Papatowai Highway, Papatowai
The Catlins New Zealand

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