Huka Falls Area Guide
Huka Falls - © Edwin Hayward
The spectacular Huka Falls just north of Taupo
are called Hukanui, or great body of spray, by the local Maori people, and are one of New Zealand's most visited natural attractions. Here the turquoise waters of the Waikato River, the only outlet for Lake Taupo
, plunge over a narrow ledge at the rate of almost 250,000 litres (two Olympic-sized swimming pools) a second. A bridge crosses the river just above the falls, bringing you within mesmerising distance of the water. It's possible to spend some time just gazing at the force of the water but if you want to be closer still, the Huka Jet offers jetboat journeys up the Waikato River to the foot of the falls.
Near the Huka Falls, the Craters of the Moon geothermal area on Karapiti Road off the western side of state highway 1 is worth a visit for its sizzling and bubbling craters, mud pools and steam vents.
Many of the other attractions in the area are clustered along Huka Falls Road, including the Volcanic Activity Centre, which has interesting displays on New Zealand's geothermal and volcanic activity.
Further north on state highway one, follow the source of all the steam to the Wairakei Geothermal Power Plant, the first in the world to use very hot water as the source of steam for driving the turbines. The power plant's visitor centre has information on the bore field and power house, and there is a lookout for views of the pipes wreathed in steam.
One of the best walks in the area leads from the centre of Taupo
along the Waikato River to the Huka Falls, and on to the Aratiatia Rapids, a spectacular part of the Waikato River until the Aratiatia hydroelectric dam was built, cutting off the water supply to the rapids. The dam's control gates are opened several times a day to allow visitors to see the rapids in full flow.
30-minute jetboat rides along the Waikato River and up close to Huka Falls. The journey also passes the Wairakei Thermal Power Station, Huka Prawn Park and the Aratiatia Dam.
Award-winning luxury hotel located on the bank of the Waikato river a short walk from Huka Falls, and situated in 7 hectares of park-like grounds. Twenty secluded lodge rooms with sunken baths and separate showers, walk-in dressing rooms, and wooden outdoor terraces. Lodge room with log fire, library, and trophy room that can accommodate conferences (up to 20 delegates) and small receptions (up to 40 people).
Four star hotel and conference centre. Colonial style villas offer deluxe and executive suites, studios, and self-contained 2 bedroom villas. Three conference rooms, catering to up to 140 delegates.
Vineyard restaurant serving seasonal local and New Zealand produce. Outdoor seating for 80 and indoor dining for 50. Boutique purpose-built winery offering wine tastings and sale, plus an extensive wine library.
Specialist honey and mead store and cafe. Free honey tastings, and free wine tasting at the Meadery, including mead (honey) wines. Bee video and interactive displays. Located 5 minutes from Huka Falls, near the Volcanic Activity Centre.
Interactive displays about volcanic activity in New Zealand and around the world. Earthquake simulator and tornado machine. Lots of hands-on exhibits for children.