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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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  • Catering

    Eat Catering

    Eat Catering is a modern, vibrant company created to match a passion for food with the increasing demand for catering services in the Taupō region.

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing

    Mountain shuttle

    We offer a one way Tongariro Alpine Crossing shuttle service hourly from the Tongariro shuttle car park at the finish point of the hike to the starting point Mangatepopo.

    $25 - $35 Book now
  • Scenic flights

    Inflite Experiences Taupo

    INFLITE Experiences Taupo offers unforgettable helicopter tours, showing the best of Taupo's powerful volcanoes, thermal reserves, tranquil wilderness areas, colourful local lakes, sparkling rivers and coastlines.

    $99 - $790
  • Hotels

    Suncourt Hotel

    Enjoy stunning views of Lake Taupo and the mountains of Tongariro National Park from our lake front rooms and the terrace of Lake Bistro bar & restaurant. Boutique shopping, cafes and nightlife are only a short leisurely stroll from our hotel.

    $160 - $310 Book now
  • Fashion & clothing

    Jumpers

    Jumpers Taupō are stockists of a range of quality Merino, Possum and pure New Zealand Lambswool knitwear from leading New Zealand labels.

  • Holiday homes

    Taupo Central Apartment - Amazing Accom

    Stylishly designed and furnished self-serviced apartment conveniently located only a 5 min walk from central Taupo but set in a lovely quiet area overlooking a river. Its spaciousness, tasteful decor and great amenities make for an excellent getaway.

    $245 - $395 Book now
  • Art galleries

    Scrapbook Cottage

    Your only scrapbooking and card making store based in Taupo.

  • Boat cruises

    Chris Jolly Outdoors - Private Fishing Charters

    Fish for Trout with the experts. Chris Jolly Outdoors have been taking clients fishing on Lake Taupo for more than 30 years. We have 4 launches to choose from and can cater for groups up to 140 people - all our fishing trips are private charters.

    $280 - $350 Book now
  • Scenic flights

    Taupo's Floatplane

    Flightseeing at its best! Discover NZ’s most scenic & spectacular vistas. Enjoy a unique flightseeing experience over Tongariro National Park, the Bay of Plenty and, of course, Great Lake Taupo! Scenic flights by seaplane are a magical way of gaining

    $109 - $870
  • Fishing – Fresh Water

    Taupo Kayaking Adventures - Kayak Fishing Tours

    Come and fish beautiful Lake Taupo out of purpose built fishing kayaks. Fish for Rainbow trout and the odd Trophy Brown trout, while enjoying the serenity that only kayak fishing provides. Fishing is available all year round.

    $250 - $450 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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