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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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  • Restaurants

    Kissa-Kai Japanese Cafe and Restaurant

    Kissa Kai is a licensed Japanese cafe and restaurant who brings you the delicious authentic Japanese delights.

  • Beauty & wellness

    Cocoon Day Spa & Beauty

    Cocoon Day Spa offers a tranquil environment designed for relaxation and rejuvenation.

  • Snowboarding

    Snowscene Ski and Board

    Welcome to Snowscene Ski and Board Turangi. We have been serving skis, boards and snow clothing to Whakapapa, Turoa and Tukino Skiers and boarders for over 35 years. Our shop holds an extensive range of gear for all ages and abilities

    $20 - $100 Book now
  • Mountain biking

    Taupo Kayaking Adventures Bike & Kayak Combo Tours

    Why not combine your mountain biking and kayaking trip into one fun adventure packed day? Enjoy the stunning scenery Great Lake Taupo and its surrounding area has on offer on both land and water.

    $120 - $510 Book now
  • Gifts & souvenirs

    Stardust Creations

    Stardust Creations is a family-owned gift store stocking a huge range of products including crystals and gemstones, Himalayan salt lamps, ornaments including animals, buddhas, fairies and dragons, and candles and incense.

  • Rental cars

    Pegasus Rental Cars Taupo

    Bing and the Team at Pegasus Rental Cars Napier have over 15 years of experience in the rental vehicle industry, friendly service, local knowledge and an extensive fleet of rental vehicles. They'll have you exploring the Hawkes Bay in no time.

    $35 - $130 Book now
  • Restaurants

    Indian Delights

    We welcome you all to Indian Delight for a wonderful dine-in experience of Indian Cuisine with a wonderful lakeside view.

  • Holiday homes

    Waipapa Cottage

    Waipapa Cottage is a 3 bedroom Kuratau holiday home with Wi-Fi, lakefront living, and a spa pool. Situated on the pristine southwestern shores of Lake Taupo, this serene holiday spot offers breathtaking, elevated lakefront views!

    $225 - $325
  • Geothermal

    Tokaanu Thermal Walk

    See steaming hot mineral pools and spluttering mud pools on this short, easy walk.

  • Walking & hiking

    Chris Jolly Outdoors - Interactive Survival Walks

    Learn basic survival skills within your natural environment with Chris Jolly Outdoors's Interactive Survival Walk. These survival skills, from finding water and food to building shelters, will be handy in any unwanted situations.

    $140 - $360 Book now
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    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.

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    Geothermal

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