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 the falls more than made up for it with sheer power and gorgeous powdery blue colour.
Backing up the water volume on display, the falls was said to discharge 300,000 litres per second (or 62,000 gallons per second).
The light blue color of the water was probably aided by the mineral content of Lake Taupo (being surrounded by rich volcanic soil) causing the light to reflect a slightly different wavelength of the blue from the sky.
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.
Visiting Huka Falls
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 part of the Taupo Walkway.
The footpath spanned the 3km between Huka Falls and the town of Taupo some 3km away.
That said, we only needed to walk a short distance downstream where we experienced a pair of overlooks of Huka Falls.
The first overlook peered right at the brink of the falls. The second overlook was further downstream where it provided an 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 daredevils 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.
Huka Falls is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
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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