• A lady standing over a lake

    Chasing waterfalls in Taupō: Discovering Huka Falls

November 16, 2021

For the most part, the mighty Waikato River – the longest in New Zealand – is a gentle giant, flowing at a tranquil pace as it travels north from Lake Taupō. That is however, until the 100-metre-wide river meets a 15-metre-wide volcanic rock canyon. Pushed and squeezed into a narrow ravine, its speed accelerates, its power intensifies, and suddenly, the pressure results in more than 220,000 litres of water a second erupting over an 11-metre-high gorge, creating the powerful visual spectacle of the Huka Falls.

This never-ending torrent of thundering waters is a truly mesmerising sight. Chances are you’ll hear the roar and rumble of the waters from afar before you even see the powerful phenomenon of the cascading falls. They’re a fine display of hydropower in action – and in fact, the amount of water blasting over Huka Falls would fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just 11 seconds!

A family looking over a waterfall in Taupo

Credit: Todd Eyre

As one of Taupō’s must-see attractions, no trip to the region is complete without witnessing these spectacular falls for yourself. For the ultimate combo, a Rapids Jet and River Cruise combo ticks all the boxes. Start your day with a leisurely scenic cruise aboard the Maid of the Falls, as you glide along the crystal-clear waters of the native tree-lined Waikato River. Their specially-designed boats allow you to feast on unparalleled views of Huka Falls from the large decks, and snap some fantastic photos. In fact, you’ll get so close to the base of the falls, you’ll even feel the spray of the powerful waters on your skin!

A red cruise boat at the base of Huka Falls waterfall

Credit: Huka Falls River Cruise

Afterwards, turn up the thrills and get ready for an exhilarating jetboat experience along the Waikato River! Just a few kilometres downstream from Huka Falls is the Aratiatia Dam, and it’s here where our 35-minute adrenaline blast begins. Satisfy your need for speed in the fast-flowing Aratiatia Rapids, and over the wild and untamed Nga Awapurua Rapids (the biggest commercially jet-boated rapids in New Zealand). With twists and turns, spins and squeezes galore, you’ll be laughing and grinning ear-to-ear after experiencing the world’s only white-water rapid jetboat ride.

People in a yellow jet boat catching a wave

Credit: Rapids Jet

If you’re hungry for more adventure, complete your day (or upgrade to an action-packed weekend) with a medley of nearby attractions to enjoy. Find out what all the buzz is about at Huka Honey Hive, where you can sample an incredible variety of pure New Zealand artisan honey products and witness the busy bees at work. Reach new heights and conquer the challenge at Rock n Ropes, by pushing your limits on high-wire bridges and giant swings and taking on the whopping 5-story high ‘leap of faith’ ledge jump. Huka Prawn Park offers Taupō’s only riverside alfresco dining (their giant garlic butter prawns are a must-try), and fun aquatic-themed activities like stand-up paddleboards, pedal boats and water trikes that will keep the kids busy.

Fuel up for a day of adventure or unwind with a bite to eat at a nearby café – Kefi at the Hub has plenty of yummy options. Get your nature fix with the leisurely 3km walking track from Spa Park to Huka Falls, as you wander alongside the picturesque Waikato River. Or if you prefer to soak up the scenery on two wheels, check out the nearby cycle trails like the Rotary Ride.

Just five minutes’ drive from Taupō town centre, an hour from Rotorua and two hours from Tauranga and Hamilton, a day of adventure at the awe-inspiring Huka Falls awaits you! Experience this iconic sight from all angles, and you’ll quickly discover why Huka Falls is New Zealand’s most-visited and most-photographed natural wonder.

Book your Rapids Jet and Huka Falls River Cruise combo online for just $139/adult (saving $32!).

POV: You’re a jetboat driver navigating the thrilling twists and turns of the Waikato River’s Aratiatia Rapids 🚤 #WhiteWaterRafting #NZ #NZtravel #Taupo #RapidsJet #NZadventures #Adrenaline
Your front row seat to the ultimate winter adventure 🙌 Credit: Ian Sadler #WhiteWaterRafting #NZactivities #FamilyFriendly #NZwinter
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Buckle up for a wild ride! Fasten your seatbelts for a thrilling experience. Get ready for white-water action and breathtaking views. Tag a friend who needs a dose of adrenaline ❤️ #RapidsJet #WhiteWaterRafting #Taupo #NZ #NZtravel #northisland
Just a casual day at the Rapids Jet “office”! 💦 Leave your guesses in the comments on what happens next! 👇 #Adrenaline #NZ #northisland #Taupo #RapidsJet
Splashing, soaking, no worries! These smiles say it all 😁 #RapidsJet #Aratiatia #Taupo #NZ
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No speed cameras around here – we’re like Ferraris on the water! 🚤 #RapidsJet #AratiatiaRapids #NZ #adventure #NZtravel #NZmustdo
Bluebird days 👌 📷: Natalia Rik #Taupo #NZscenery #NZlakes #RapidsJet
Safety first for our furry coworker! Happy #TakeYourDogToWorkDay to all the good boys and girls out there 🐶 #Taupo #RapidsJet #NZscenery #NZtravel #adventure #NorthIsland
Trading in the slopes for some white-water rapids? ❄️ Rapids Jet offers an exhilarating winter adventure you won't forget! #RapidsJet #Taupo #NZexperiences #NZwinter #NorthIsland
Hold on tight! The Aratiatia Rapids rolls out quite the impressive welcome mat 😎 Did you know the rapids are released three times a day in winter, sending out a torrent of cascading water from the dam gates? Credit: @Torisgoodlife #RapidsJet #Taupo #NZadventure #ThrillSeeker #Aratiatia #NZtravel #NZmustdo