We are the only commercial jet boat operator on the Nga Awa Purua Rapids, a little further along from the Aratiatia Rapids, and we are so proud to be here! This stretch of the Waikato River is our home, and our playground.
A few kilometres downstream of Huka Falls, the Waikato River naturally falls 28 metres in the space of just one kilometre. The water then flows faster and in a narrower channel, forming the beautiful Aratiatia Rapids. In 1964, that impressive flow was harnessed by the Aratiatia Power Station by way of a dam (and it can actually generate enough power for 90,000 homes!).
That dam is the famous Aratiatia Dam, and it releases the water four times a day during the summer, three times a day during the winter, restoring the Aratiatia Rapids to their natural glory.
On a Rapids Jet boat ride, you can expect to be taken safely right up to the wall of the Dam and to the left of it you’ll see the base of the Aratiatia Rapids, spilling out into the part of the river where we get to play! The world-famous Nga Awa Purua Rapids are further downstream and we have exclusive access to jet boat riding every drop. This is where the action happens!
Watch the Aratiatia Dam open!
Watching the Aratiatia Dam open up is a sight to behold. Perfectly clear, calm turquoise water turns into a tumbling mess of white when around 80,000 litres of water are released!
We encourage you to head out this way early, so you can watch the Dam opening at one of the viewing points before your ride. The closest and easiest place to watch it from is the bridge, about a 5 minute drive from Rapids Jet. Park up in the Aratiatia Dam carpark and then pop onto the bridge to watch the magic happen! If you’re feeling up to it, there’s also a roughly 600m track that takes you to a dedicated lookout over the Aratiatia Rapids.
Aratiatia Dam Opening Times:
- Summer (October to March): 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm
- Winter (April to September): 10am, 12pm, 2pm
At Rapids Jet we actually time our jet boat rides to go half an hour after the release so you get the best flows and viewing. We still operate outside these times, but book early for our 12.30pm and 2.30pm trips to make the most of the Dam’s release!