I hear there are some great whitewater kayaking places in Tasmania - especially in the north of the state? What time of year is best to go, and is it possible to rent equipment or go with a guide?
The Mersey river is a good place to go, which is in the north of Tasmania, about an hour drive from Launceston. The water comes from a Hydro dam, so you can ring Hydro Tasmania and generally they can release water for you if you book ahead.
There is also basic accommodation up there you can rent if you need to stay, which some school groups use. almost 12 years ago
Tasmania has amazing kayaking, particularly around the Cradle and Mersey Valleys (both in north / north-west of state). Classic advanced / steep rivers to look our for in this region are Lea River (Class IV), Leven Canyon (Class IV - V) and Cataract Gorge (Class V).
Good beginner / intermediate runs are Upper Mersey River, Lake Rowallan to Lake Parangana (Class II-III), Iris River (Class III-IV), North Esk River (Class III-IV), Fisher River (Class III) and Leven River, Gunns Plains to Bannons Bridge (Class II-III).
That said there's great boating throughout the state. Other classic runs to look out for are Broad River (Class V), Nive River (Class IV), Picton (Class III), Franklin (multi-day Class III-IV) and Butler's Gorge (Class V).
The sport is relatively underground in Tasmania so organised gear rental and guided tours are as far as I know, unavailable. If you get stuck, I'd contact the Tasmanian Canoe Club (http://www.tcc.canoe.org.au/) up north, or the Derwent Canoe Club (www.derwent.canoe.org.au/) if you're in the south.
Best time of year is unfortunately during colder months (say July - Nov). Having said that, you can get boating in year round in all but the driest summer periods. almost 12 years ago