Huka Falls. Waterfall in New Zealand, Oceania

Huka Falls

Waterfall in New Zealand, Oceania

Huka falls Photo © CyranoB

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Huka Falls

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Huka
	Falls 8 - Huka Falls
Huka Falls 8 - Huka Falls. Photo by Martin Hipp
Just a few minutes' drive from the city of Taupo, this thundering 11-meter high waterfall is the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand. On a sunny day the water is an amazing, crystal clear blue, and a footbridge right at the top of the falls puts you in a prime position to witness the power of the falls close up.

Geology

The falls are located on the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river. Draining into Lake Taupo, the river is normally up to 100 meters wide, but narrows to just 15 meters as it crosses a hard volcanic ledge north of Lake Taupo. This causes a huge volume of water to collide and funnel through the rocky gorge, forming the spectacularly powerful falls and rapids. The water flows through at a rate of up to 220,000 liters per second - enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in 11 seconds. "Huka" is the indigenous Maori word for "foam".

The canyon is carved into lake floor sediments laid down before the Oruanui eruption of the Taupo Volcano (Wikipedia Article) 26,500 years ago. The eruption was the world's largest in the last 70,000 years.

Huka Falls 1 - Huka Falls
Huka Falls 1. Photo by Martin Hipp

Boating

New Zealand - Taupo -
	Huka Falls Jet Boat 2 - Huka Falls
New Zealand - Taupo - Huka Falls Jet Boat 2 - Huka Falls. Photo by Steven Mileham
To experience the falls close up, you can take a boat right to the base of the falls. The Hukafalls Jet takes you on an exhilarating jetboat ride, discovering the beautiful river environment, complete with native bush, sheer rock cliff face and natural hot springs. Tours are daily and prices begin at 115 NZD. For something more leisurely, take a cruise on the Huka Falls River Cruise. Cruises depart several times daily, with adults 37 NZD and children 15 NZD.

Hiking

There are walking tracks alongside the river, so take your time to wander around the different viewing platforms to appreciate the falls from all angles. To experience more of the natural surroundings, the Huka Falls area offers several beautiful trails.

Spa Park to Huka Falls Trail

This easy, one hour walk begins where the river is still lazy and wide. Passing through exotic and native forests, the track emerges again alongside the river, with the roar of the falls increasing at every turn.

Huka Falls Walkway

This track winds along the riverbank with several beautiful viewpoints along the way. The trail terminates at the falls. The track is suitable for all levels of fitness, and takes around two hours return. To get there, turn right off Tongariro Street into Spa Road at the northern end of Taupo, then left into County Avenue and drive into Spa Thermal Park. Following the signs, walk for five minutes across the park to the Waikato River, where the walkway begins.

Huka Falls to Aratiatia Rapids Walking Track

This trail will lead you along the clifftops, with magnificent views of the river, before descending and continuing along the river to the Aratiatia hydro dam and rapids. The track will take you around four hours return. To get there, follow State Highway 1 north from Taupo for 1.6 kilometers, then turn right into Huka Falls Road and follow the signs to Huka Falls. The track begins across the bridge, and head left to the last viewing area over the falls.

Mountain biking

The Rotary Ride the perfect sightseeing trail for those seeking a leisurely bike ride. Covering almost 20 kilometers, it will take you two to three hours. The trail features stunning views of native bush, the Waikato River (Wikipedia Article), Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Rapids. The track starts at Spa Thermal Park and heads north on an easy single track for four kilometers to Huka Falls. Turn back after the falls or continue your ride all the way to Aratiatia Rapids seven kilometers away.

How to Get There

Huka Falls 1 - Huka
	Falls
Huka Falls 1 - Huka Falls. Photo by Gavin McFarlane
The Huka Falls are located in the Wairakei Tourist Park, just five minutes drive north of Taupo City. Alternatively, you can walk to the falls via the Huka Falls Walkway, which begins near Otumuheke Streat at the Spa Thermal Park. A bus from Taupo passes several times each day on a circuit of local attractions.

If driving from Auckland, follow State Highway 1 to Taupo, then turn left at the Huka Falls sign to Huka Falls Road. It is easy to see the falls from other viewpoints and visitors can still reach the bridge across the Waikato and viewing areas on foot from both sides of the river. There is also a good view of the falls from a loop road just off the main highway and a swing bridge, originally built during the Maori Wars, crosses the river and leads along the east bank to other lookout points.

Accommodation

If you're looking for accommodation near Taupo, the world-famous Huka Lodge is located on the banks of the Waikato River upstream from Huka Falls. For luxury travelers, the Lodge is an iconic NZ retreat. For something that won't break the bank quite so much, try the Huka Falls Resort, nestled among gardens, a vineyard and the picturesque Fletchers Church.

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Author: Amanda. Last updated: Mar 14, 2016

Pictures of Huka Falls

Huka Falls 9 - Huka Falls
Huka Falls 9 - Photo by Martin Hipp

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