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Waikato River

Born on the eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, the longest river in New Zealand drains Lake Taupo through Taupo town, blasts through a narrow rock chasm to create the Huka Falls, then winds more peacefully northwards towards Port Waikato, south of Auckland.

Otumuheke Stream has been used by local Maori for its therapeutic benefits for hundreds of years.

Mountain bike trails line the banks of the Waikato River.

Mountain bike trails line the banks of the Waikato River.

Almost 100km of Waikato River Trails and 34km of Huka Trails wind alongside the river, passing through native bush, exotic forest, historic landmarks, interesting rock formations, farmland, open reserves, boardwalks over significant wetlands, and expansive lake and river landscapes.

Along its length, nine hydro stations on river dams supply around 10 percent of New Zealand’s electricity.

Along its length, nine hydro stations on river dams supply around 10 percent of New Zealand’s electricity.

At the Aratiatia Dam near Taupo, gates are opened several times a day to thunderously flood the steep canyon of the Aratiatia Rapids with water. This is where the famous ‘dwarf barrel’ scene from the movie The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug was filmed.

The river is the subject of many traditional Māori stories.

The river is the subject of many traditional Māori stories.

The most famous Maori story is the Waikato taniwha rau, or Waikato of a Hundred Water-Monsters. This refers to the many enemy tribal chiefs who once lived along the waters’ edge, and their strength and importance to the district.

Getting to the Waikato River

The Waikato River drains from Lake Taupo at Taupo Boat Harbour. From here it winds it's way through the North Island of New Zealand to the sea at Port Waikato.

There are various walking and biking access points to the river and trails. If you are driving, Spa Park, Huka Falls and the Aratiatia Dam have carparks.

Waikato River, Taupo, New Zealand

Experience the Waikato River

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  • Fishing – Fresh Water

    Raft Fishing - Tongariro River Rafting

    Raft fishing trips can be made to suit every angler's specific needs. Experienced guides are available to help locate and net your first fat Taupo Rainbow Trout. The Tongariro River is world famous for its trout fishing.

    $700 - $750 Book now
  • Motels

    Mountain View Motel

    Eleven unit motel in a quiet location away from the SH1. Only a five minute walk to the lake and a 10 minute walk to the town centre.

    $95 - $265
  • Photography & videography

    Filmsutra

    We offer wedding photography and wedding videography in Taupō and New Zealand.

  • Fashion & clothing

    The Warehouse

    Did you know nearly every New Zealander visits us at least once a year? That’s because everyone knows The Warehouse is... sing it with with us... “Where everyone gets a bargain.”

  • Holiday homes

    Treetops

    Treetops is a modern 3 bedroom 3 bathroom Omori Holiday Home. Private, sunny and a little unique; if you are looking for something a bit special then Treetops is the place for you.

    $225 - $350
  • Family friendly

    Coriander Lime Kitchen

    Coriander Lime Kitchen is Taupo’s only Asian cooking school that offers cooking classes for adults as well as children.

  • Restaurants

    Lakehouse

    Lakehouse Taupo as a table service restaurant we specialise in stone grill meals and gourmet dishes with an extensive range of Wine and Craft beer.

  • Holiday homes

    Ultimate Luxury Lake Terrace

    This three bedroom lavishly furnished home is the ultimate place for you to spend your precious time out. Located right on Lake Terrace with uninterrupted lake and mountain views you will not want to leave.

    $500 - $700 Book now
  • Boat cruises

    Fish Lake Taupo Charters

    Whether relaxing with friends and family on a cruise to view the Maori Rock Carvings or fishing for a wily trout or two on Lake Taupo, enjoy time on board MV Waimarie. Bring your own food and refreshments and use the galley/BBQ facilities.

    $150 - $200
  • Heritage attractions

    Go Explore NZ - Tongariro National Park Guided Tour

    Explore the dramatic scenery of the Tongariro national park. This tour will be guaranteed to take your breath away in both summer and winter. The Tongariro National Park is home to some of New Zealand’s most wild and rugged terrain.

    $209 - $239 Book now
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Discover more highlights...

  • Scenic attractions

    Lake Taupo, New Zealand

    At the heart of New Zealand’s central volcanic plateau sits the largest freshwater lake in Australasia, Lake Taupo.

    More info 
  • Scenic attractions

    Tongariro River

    Flowing north from the snow-clad peaks of Tongariro National Park, through the picturesque town of Turangi, the pristine Tongariro River is one of the world’s best places to catch trout.

    More info 
  • Scenic attractions

    Huka Falls Taupo

    At Huka Falls nearly a quarter of a million litres of water per second erupts from a natural gorge and thunders 11m into the Waikato River below.

    More info 
  • Scenic attractions

    Geothermal

    Lying on a volcanic plateau above a vast underground lake of magma, Taupo is alive with astonishing geothermal activity.

    More info 
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