Aratiatia Rapids


Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids are the most visited and popular rapids in New Zealand. The rapids are formed when the dam are opened to release the full flow of the Waikato River - 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, and 4:00pm (summer only). The rapids are filmed in Peter Jackson's movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Driving and walking conditions

GPS of the view point: S 38° 37.001' E 176° 08.578'
Parking: Aratiatia Rd, Rotokawa
Vehicle type: All vehicle types Track type: Easy walking track
Road type: Sealed Return track duration: 20min

Waterfall parameters

Waterfall height: 5m Type of the waterfall: Cascade

Rating:       ⭐⭐⭐⭐
GPS:          S 38° 37.001' E 176° 08.578'
Parking:     Aratiatia Rd, Rotokawa
Access:     20min return walk

Walking and driving instructions


Aratiatia Rapids are roughly a 10-minutes’ drive away from Taupo. The road surface is always sealed.

From Taupo follow Thermal Explorer Highway for 10km, then turn right into Aratiatia Rd (well signposted) and follow it for the next 2km. There is a huge carpark on Aratiatia Rd with a beautiful picnic area. There are no toilets there.

From the parking, cross the road and follow an easy walking track which leads to two lookouts. Follow the official walking path for 5 minutes, then a path to the lower lookout branches out from the main track, and in 5 minutes brings you to the platform. Alternatevly, from the intersection you can continue on to the main track for 10 minutes and reach the upper lookout. Return via the same track. The lower lookout is easier to reach and more popular. 

You will see some water (not much) almost always, but better to observe the rapids 15-30 minutes each time the dam doors open. Opening times: 10 am; 12 noon; 2 pm (and also 4 pm 1 October - 31 March).

The walking track above is not suitable for wheelchair, hence here is an option for people who can't walk, or for photographers who want to take awesome photos: from Aratiatia Rd turn left into Rapids Rd and follow it until you reach a bridge over the river. There is a large parking there. From the parking, walk onto the bridge (1min) and enjoy the beauty of the rapids from a distance.

Mountain biking option: The Rotary Ride (Grade 2; 2-3 hrs return) starts at Spa Thermal Park and heads north on an easy single track for 4kms to Huka Falls. Turn back after the falls or continue your ride all the way to Aratiatia Rapids (2 hrs) some 7kms away.

Waterfalls nearby

Huka Falls

Rating:       ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Access:     10min return walk
Driving:   8.3 km (10 mins)

Read more ...


Photo Gallery

Visitors Comments