Aratiatia Rapids, Taupo

4.5
Marvel at the forces of nature (and engineering) at Aratiatia Rapids, a section of river diverted by a power station. Though normally a calm stream thanks to the nearby dam, the diversion gates open several times per day, allowing the river to flow at its full speed. As the gates open, you'll see 90,000 liters (19,800 gal) per second rage through the rocky gorge, frothing and bubbling as it tumbles down the slope. Hike your way up to one of the surrounding rock bluffs for a view overlooking the river and rapids. You can reach the site via a local bus route traveling between the area's popular attractions. Use our Taupo day trip tool to visit Aratiatia Rapids on your trip to Taupo, and learn what else travelers and our writers recommend seeing nearby.
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Aratiatia Rapids Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
925 reviews
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4.4
TripAdvisor
  • We were staying in Okahune on our way to Taupo and the ladies in the I-site told us we must go to see the Aratiatia Rapids. We had been to Taupo before and seen Huka Falls, but never heard of these. W...  more »
  • We visited the rapids on our way from Rotorua to Lake Taupo and they are definitely worth seeing. The water is released four times a day. We stood on the bridge facing away from the dam but there are ...  more »
  • We visited these rapids three times during our stay in Taupo and thoroughly enjoyed the experience each time. We arrived early and walked the 10 minutes to the top platform in time for a good position...  more »
Google
  • The flood gates at Aratiatia Power Station open at 10A, 12P, 2P, (and during the summer, also at 4P) each day so you can gawk at the amazing water flow. It's free to watch! There are 3 places to view the water. On the bridge, right where the dam opens, a lower platform (cross the road from the parking lot to get to the start of the trail and it's an easy 5 min walk), and the upper platform (about a 10 min walk, mostly uphill. You can drive closer to that platform, but we didn't see where too take the turn off). They blast a siren 4 times before they open the gate for the scheduled openings (8, 4, 2, and 1 min before the gates open). (Don't know if they blast the siren before an unscheduled opening so don't go swimming in the water thinking you'll have enough warning. The water roses very quickly and sadly people have died.) The bridge is very accessible and easy but you only see the first pools fill up and don't get to see the canyon fill up, which we thought was the most interesting. The high platform is interesting because you get to see the whole thing at a bird's eye view, but we liked the lower platform the best, where you can still see the flood gates open but also see the canyon level water rise quickly. It's a short stop but it's quick to get to from Taupo and worth it.
  • Be at the dam at the right time to see the sluice gates opened. 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, and also at 4:00pm during Summer. That first gush is very quick, you will miss the water rushing out if you are a couple of minutes late. It is a Lovely walk to the gorge. Great walk for all ages. Public restrooms will be a great and welcome addition. At the Aratiatia Rapids, the Waikato River falls 28 metres in the space of one kilometre. The surging rapids have been harnessed to produce environmentally sustainable hydroelectric power. To view the Aratiatia Rapids gradually filling up, make sure you arrive a few minutes before the dam is due to release. There are three lookout points on the high rock bluffs that overlook the river. Aratiatia Rapids is not a safe place to swim. The dam can release water at any time and without warning. Summer release hours - 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm Winter release hours - 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm
  • There’s parking close by to bridge viewing point. A cool thing to see when the water rushes through the gates when it opens. Exact time when the gates open. Summer release hours – 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm Winter release hours – 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm The water is so beautiful. I went there twice in one day just to see the different views on both sides of the bridge.
  • At 2, 4 and 6 pm in Summer the gates are opened and a dry rocky gorge is filled with gushing white and blue water. Amazing. In less than 10 minutes it is at full flow and then the gates close. Take a tripod and a good time lapse camera to capture this event in the best way!
  • Awesome to see. Gates open every 2 hours from 10am until 4pm. Get a great view on the bridge or one of the lookouts. Won't cost you a cent.
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