Windley River (III)

The Windley is an unlikely grade II/III run located in the Southwest of the Eyre Mountains/Taka Ra Haka Conservation Park. It offers a pleasant approach over mellow alpine terrain and charismatic paddling down the narrow winding creek. Perfect length for a weekend adventure.

Thanks to Sean Burrows, Jamie McAulay for the information and photos.

View Larger Topographic Map


A fair indicator is the monitoring station on the Oreti River at Three Kings We paddled this run when the gauge was reading about 8 cumecs. This seems about the average flow and you won’t want to run the river with any less water unless you hate your tailbone.


Leave a car or bicycle at the old gravel pit (recently made part of a cycle trail) on Center Hill Rd about 2km north of the Windley/Oreti confluence. Then make your way about 30mins drive north to where Mt Nicholas Rd crosses the Oreti river to put in.

Day one

Float down the Oreti River (I) until you arrive at the Ashton Burn confluence. (Approx 1hr, depending on flows)

Overlooking the Oreti river and Mavora Lakes on the approach. Attribution: Jamie MacAulay

Walk up and along the gentle ridge then drop into the Windley River near Upper Windley Hut where we spent the night. (Approx 5-6hrs)

Day Two

The following morning it took about one hour to walk down the river until meeting the first major confluence to put on. It is possible to paddle above this but it requires some extra juice.

The first few gorgey sections downstream of the confluence are straightforward grade III and easily scoutable from the forest.

The aesthetic upper gorges of the Windley. Attribution: Jamie MacAulay

After about 1km of this the river relents to very enjoyable grade II/II+ read and run style paddling.

Read and run. Attribution: Jamie MacAulay

This continues until the next big confluence that joins from the east. Here there are a couple more clean, enjoyable and simple grade III sections.

An example of the simple, clean drops. Attribution: Jamie MacAulay
 Lower drops. Attribution: Jamie MacAulay

Exercise caution for trapped logs for the entire length of the run as the river is narrow. Other than this the only notable hazard is a death drop located at the obvious hairpin bend north of Lower Windley Hut. The river turns sharply and narrows to about a metre wide, a simple short portage on the true right.

After this the river becomes less technical and starts to braid a bit. Cross the Oreti and walk up the fancy cycle trail to your vehicle and a fresh beer.

From hut to car took us about 8hrs.

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  1. Swanny says:

    The wicked Windley River in the Eyre Mountains, Southland.
    Such an epic creek run in perfect flows, 10 – 7 cu.

    Awesome gorges, great scenery and constant non stop white water for k`s and k`s and k`s.
    We have been waiting during the long dry spell, for the right conditions, and after the heavy rain on Thursday and Friday it came good over the weekend.

    G3 on packrafting trips page – and it really is!! 😉 Thanks Sean Burrows and Jamie McAulay for the inspiration.

    An 6 hr hiking day Saturday and a 10 hour day paddling Sunday, phew!

    Deans packraft packed a sad and deflated in the upper gorge, urghh! Lots and lots and lots of repairing to keep us afloat but we made it out, but it took time. Nice one Miss Day for your patient patch work skills.

    A great trip and if your thinking of heading in anytime soon, give me a call for some beta.
    A fantastic trip!

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