International travel enthusiast and expat from New Zealand, currently living in Germany. https://indie-road.com
Published March 18th 2017
Foamy Fall Fun
Just to the North of Taupo is a popular spot on the Waikato River called Huka Falls. 220,000 litres of water pass through here every second which makes a powerful and interesting sight. They are created as the river, normally up to 100m wide, is forced through a 20-meter gap between the rocks. "Huka" is the Maori word for "foam", which is self-explanatory when you see the falls.
There is a car park right next to the falls off the main highway complete with a small tourist information centre and shop and pay-toilets, however, why would drive when you can take the scenic walk from the township of Taupo? From the Town it's simple; walk to the river and follow it along until you reach the waterfalls. From the town, it takes 1.5 - 2 hours of mostly gentle and flat hiking with a few small hills as the path ascends up from the Waikato river to fantastic viewpoints.
There are many benefits to walking instead of simply driving. Firstly you can relax to the soothing sounds of the river and enjoy the fantastic views of the strikingly blue water against the native bush. You pass by the Taupo Bungy Jump so you can entertain yourself for a few moments watching people jump and listen to their screams echoing off the cliffs. You also pass right through the thermal Spa Park area which contains some natural hot springs you can sit and bathe in and watch the world go by. You can go for a "refreshing dip" in the river if you're feeling brave as it gets a little cold. Most importantly, you escape the crowds of people in both Taupo and at the lookouts and enjoy a little peace and quiet amongst nature.
Once you're at the falls there is a very short walking track which takes you over the bridge and then down the side to several viewing platforms. This is a great place to stop and eat your sandwiches as well as take hundreds of photos of the iconic waters.
If you're in a rush, by all means just stop in the car park and take a few moments to look at the waterfalls, but if you have the time, I highly recommend the walk. Ensure you have plenty of sunscreen and water, and your swimmers if you want to sit in the thermal spring in Spa Park.