Huka Falls

Taupo, Bay of Plenty Region (North Island), New Zealand

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1
Huka Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Huka Falls was a waterfall that we thought packed quite a punch for something that lacked in size. Despite the Waikato River dropping a modest 9-11m, Julie and I felt that the falls more than made up for it with sheer power (said to be 300,000 Litres [62,000 gallons] per second) as well as the water's gorgeous powdery blue color. The light blue color of the water was probably due to Lake Taupo being mineral rich as its outflow would pass through rich volcanic soil helping with the dilution. Apparently, it was this same mineral rich property that was said to make for some world class trout fishing in other nearby rivers and tributaries in both the Taupo and Turangi areas.

Our visit to the falls was pretty much a breeze. From the large and busy car park, we walked on a well-developed path leading to a bridge over the turbulent Waikato River. On the other side of the bridge, the developed walkways extended in both directions as the Taupo Walkway, which followed the Waikato River to the town of Taupo some 3km away. However, we walked a short distance downstream where we experienced a pair of overlooks of Huka Falls - one at the brink of the falls and one with an angled frontal view of the falls. Given the flat relatively gentle surface, I'd imagine wheelchair access to experience the falls would also be possible.

As we gazed downstream from the lookouts closest to the falls, we would periodically see jet boat tours zoom through the calmer parts of the Waikato River further downstream of the waterfall. Then, they'd work their way upstream to the frothy whitewater turbulence of Huka Falls' large plunge pool. The expanse of the whitewater was so extensive that it seemed like the boats didn't get anywhere that close to the falls. In fact, they didn't even make it past the lowest overlook where we were viewing the waterfalls. I guess had they tried getting closer to the falls, they might really run the risk of flipping over and being sucked in by the powerful undertow from all that turbulence the waterfall generated.

Speaking of turbulence, I had read that other people have kayaked over the falls before. I don't know if this is allowed or not, but I'm sure it would have been quite the spectacle. Given how much tourism traffic that we noticed pass in and out of here, I guess it wasn't surprising at all to learn that this waterfall was indeed one of New Zealand's most popular natural attractions.

When we left this busy main area of the falls, Julie and I also stumbled upon an alternate overlook from the other side of the river (see directions below). The view of Huka Falls was more distant from here, but it definitely put allowed us to see the falls in context. Plus, it was way quieter here.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

This was the alternate view of Huka Falls just as the sun started to come outThis was the alternate view of Huka Falls just as the sun started to come out
Quite close to Huka Falls Rd was a separate turnoff opposite SH5 for the Craters of the Moon Thermal Area, which featured vents and craters and attested to the volcanic activity of the Central PlateauQuite close to Huka Falls Rd was a separate turnoff opposite SH5 for the Craters of the Moon Thermal Area, which featured vents and craters and attested to the volcanic activity of the Central Plateau
Prior to making the stop at Huka Falls, we had to make the drive from Napier to Taupo where we managed to stop for the impressive Waipunga Falls shown herePrior to making the stop at Huka Falls, we had to make the drive from Napier to Taupo where we managed to stop for the impressive Waipunga Falls shown here
When we left both the Taupo and Turangi areas, we spent some time driving the eastern part of Tongariro National Park, which was on the aptly-named Desert Road as it was about as desolate as its nameWhen we left both the Taupo and Turangi areas, we spent some time driving the eastern part of Tongariro National Park, which was on the aptly-named Desert Road as it was about as desolate as its name
Looking upstream from the bridge over the Waikato RiverLooking upstream from the bridge over the Waikato River

Looking back towards the bridge over the Waikato River and towards the car parkLooking back towards the bridge over the Waikato River and towards the car park

Our first look at Huka FallsOur first look at the falls

Looking downstream from Huka Falls towards a jet boat tour that started to enter the extensive whitewater caused by the waterfallLooking downstream from the falls towards a jet boat tour that started to enter the extensive whitewater caused by the waterfall itself

Angled profile look towards the turbulence of Huka FallsAngled profile look towards the turbulence of the falls

Looking further downstream along the Waikato River towards a calmer part of the riverLooking further downstream along the Waikato River towards a calmer part of the river

Last look at Huka Falls from an alternate lookout across the riverLast look at the falls from an alternate lookout across the river


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From junction of Lake Terrace and the Napier-Taupo Rd (SH5) in southeastern Taupo, we drove north for about 4.6km on SH5 along the northeastern shores of Lake Taupo and through the town centre to the Huka Falls Rd on our right. We then turned right and followed this road for about 3.4km to the well-signed car park on our right for the main touring area of the falls.

Continuing on Huka Falls Rd for about 400m north of the car park's turnoff was the first turnoff for Loop Rd. Loop Rd passed by the quieter and smaller lookout for an alternate view of Huka Falls.

From the junction of Lake Tce and the Napier-Taupo Rd (SH5) junction in southeastern Taupo, we also could have driven to the other end of the Huka Falls Rd detour, which was 8.1km from the junction. Then, we could have turned right onto Huka Falls Rd (note that the Craters of the Moon was going in the opposite direction on an unsealed turnoff from Karapati Rd), drive 300m for the northern end of the Loop Rd detour to our left leading to a lookout with an alternate view of the falls. Then, continue on the main road for another 400m for the main car park on our left.

Taupo was about 81km from Rotorua (about 75 minutes drive), 144km from Napier (about 2.5 hours), 213km from Hamilton (about 3 hours). Rotorua was about 3 hours drive southeast of Auckland while Hamilton was roughly 2 hours drive south of Auckland.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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What Other Visitors Have Said

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My Visit to the Huka Falls 
It was one evening many years ago,I had my Girlfriend at the time, We were there and no one else was there, we could not believe it as it is a very populate …

Aerial Video of Huka Falls 
The link below is a video shot from a drone of Huka Falls , which shows the impressive falls in a context unavailable from the overlooks on the ground. …

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