• 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!).

Some live-action footage from Rapids Jet! Keen to give it a go? Visit us in Taupō this summer season to giving these cascades a whirl. We’ll also give you a thorough tour of this part of the Waikato, with some historical facts and insider knowledge about where some popular films were made along the river! Find out more about The Ride on our website! There’s even an illustrated map with some clues… 📷: @the.travelling.dumplings #rapidsjet #dosomethingnewnz #backyourbackyardNZ #whitewater #taupo #thingstodotaupo #tourismnz #lovetaupo
Experience the Nga Awa Purua Rapids and the Huka Falls back-to-back! Our Rapids Jet and Huka Falls Cruise combo starts with a leisurely cruise to view the Huka Falls, then you’ll get to zoom across the water in one of our jet boats! A perfect outing for the whole family this summer. Head to Prices & Combos on our site to find out more! 📷: @hukafallsrivercruise #rapidsjet #dosomethingnewnz #backyourbackyardNZ #whitewater #taupo #thingstodotaupo #tourismnz #lovetaupo
A fun day out with the family that everyone will enjoy! After some pretty intensive lockdowns across the country, you’re well past due for some fun! 😁 We're curious: what was your favourite part of the Rapids Jet experience? Comment below! #rapidsjet #dosomethingnewnz #backyourbackyardNZ #whitewater #taupo #thingstodotaupo #tourismnz #lovetaupo
A great shot of our toys! 🚤 When they’re not out on the water treating anyone of any age to the ultimate Waikato River adventure, our powerful jet boats are in the shed for routine maintenance and general upkeep. Want to learn more about what’s under the hood? We’ve got some great Quick Facts about the jet boats on the About page of our site! Link in bio! #rapidsjet #dosomethingnewnz #backyourbackyardNZ #whitewater #taupo #thingstodotaupo #tourismnz #lovetaupo
Taupō is more than just its lake (although that’s pretty stunning!). It’s also the perfect place to get the whole family outside and moving, with stunning scenery and walking trails. On Thursday Oct 28 at 5.30pm, get the fam jam strolling for a worthy cause: The Pink Walk Taupō! It’s a 5km leg stretch to raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. Four-legged friends welcome! Maybe we’ll bring Max... 📸: The Pink Walk on Facebook #pinkwalktaupo #rapidsjet #dosomethingnewnz #backyourbackyardNZ  #taupo #thingstodotaupo #tourismnz #lovetaupo
How lucky are we to live in such a beautiful place!!😍🌈
Kia Ora!! We are so happy to let you all know. That Rapids Jet is operating under level two!! For more information or to book, contact the team! We cannot wait to see you all again! ❤️🎉
Check out this stunning shot of the water moving through the Nga Awa Purua Rapids! 🌊
The team are so proud to be ranked #1 of 36 Boat Tours & Water Sports Activities in Taupo, on TripAdvisor! With over 1500, 5 star reviews from our awesome customers! If you haven't already.. come down and see what all the fuss is about!😍
Sunday Funday!! 🎉🚤
Taking a pause.. to take in our beautiful surroundings. 😍 We are pretty lucky to have exclusive access to this little slice of paradise! Come see for yourself. #rapidsjet #adventure #dosomethingnewnz #lovetaupo #scenery #waikato #taupo #tauponz #purenz