Aratiatia Rapids Lookout Walk

Several times a day the gates at the Aratiatia dam are opened to release the full flow of the river, a spectacular sight from the lookout points - kids will love it!

The track leading to the two lookout points begins 50 metres from the bridge on the true right of the river.

Before the water was diverted to the power station in 1964, the Aratiatia Rapids were the largest in Australasia - the Waikato River dropping 28 metres in just one kilometre. Today their full potential can still be seen during the scheduled daily releases. Each release lasts 15 minutes.

Opening times: 10am; 12pm; 2pm (and also 4pm from 1 October - 31 March)

The tiers of the rapids and steep walls of the gorge are remnants of an ancient volcano. It is said the the name "Aratiatia" comes from the meaning "stairway of Tia". Tia was a leader from the waka Te Arawa, and passed through the gorge with a small party on route to discovering Lake Taupo. 

These are also the famous rapids used in the filming of the barrel escape scene in Peter Jackson's movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. 

Find out everything you need to plan for this track on Plan My Walk

Distance 620m
Time 10 minutes
Physical rating Easy
Direction Return via same track 
Transport & guides No
Dog access Yes
Physical address:
Aratiatia Road
New Zealand
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