Huka Falls Travel Blog› entry 10 of 23 › view all entries
Our next stop of the day was at Huka Falls. Huka means "foam" in Maori -- and it is an appropriate name for this waterfall on the Waikato River. The falls are where Lake Taupo drains into the Waikato River, the longest river in New Zealand. Lake Taupo is the largest fresh water lake in Australasia. The river is normally 100 meters wide, but at the falls, it is squeezed to less than 20 meters wide. The volume of water coming through this point is amazing -- it is enough to fill 2 olympic sized swimming pools every second! It is an amazing sight -- I have never seen water so tourquoise in color, and my photos barely do it justice.
We stopped at an overlook area to check out the falls. They have a bridge in the overlook area that you can walk out onto and check out the falls from a very clear vantage point. It's a great place for a photo opportunity. You can also check out the jet boats that are available for thrill seekers at this site.
Very near the falls in the Wairakei Tourist Park is the Huka Jet location where you can take an amazing jet boat ride right up to the edge of the falls that will give you one of the biggest surges of adrenalin you can imagine! The jet boats are powered by a 502 cubic inch/8.2 litre Chevrolet V8 engine that runs on propane. Instead of using a propeller, the boats are propelled by a jet of water that blasts out of the back of the boat with great force -- it thrusts over 380 litres of water per second through the jet! The drivers of the boats are fantastic.
The boats are owned by a Maori company that does this here and on the Shotover River on the South Island near Queenstown. Both are amazing rides. More on the Shotover River jet boat ride when we get to the South Island later in the trip.
I talked Mom and Dad into riding the jet boat with me, which was no mean feat with my Mom. My Dad sat at the side of the boat, Mom next and then me in the middle next to two other passengers. The ride was wild -- fast and furious with lots of close calls near rocks, logs, cliffs and trees.
From Huka Falls, we went on to Taupo. We stayed at the Clearwater Motor Lodge, a place recommended by friends of mine back in Austin. They stay here every year when he comes to New Zealand to do the Iron Man race competition at Lake Taupo. We had a nice "family style" room with two bedrooms and a nice living room area. We did a quick soak in the Lodge's hot tub to warm up after our jet boat adventure, and then went over to the Copthorne for dinner at the Edgewater Grille. I had a rack of lamb that was out of this world.