Aratiatia Rapids Taupo

Aratiatia Rapids is one of the most popular natural attractions in New Zealand’s North Island – a must see on your visit to Taupo. Watch thousands of litres of water rush from the dam gates to transform the peaceful gully into raging rapids.

Aratiatia Dam and Aratiatia Rapids are located on the Waikato River, downstream of Lake Taupo, about 16km from Taupo town centre. The dam opens three times a day in winter and four times a day in summer. The whole family will love watching the water gush from the dam and fill the rapids below.

Aratiatia Dam release times

Summer (Oct to March) release hours – 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm

Winter (Apr to Sep) release hours – 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm

Viewing points

There are a number of viewing points where you can watch the opening of the Aratiatia Dam gates. You can view the release from the main Aratiatia Bridge beside the car park or walk five minutes to two different viewing points along the river.

Car parking

There is plenty of car and campervan parking at Aratiatia dam but it is best to arrive 10 minutes before the dam release so you have time to park and choose your preferred viewing point. Refer to our directions page on how to get to Aratiatia Rapids and dam.

History of Aratiatia

The name “Aratiatia” means “stairway of Tia” after the legendary Maori explorer Tia. He arrived at the rapids and was fascinated by the tiered form.

The Aratiatia Power station is the first hydroelectric power station on the Waikato River, New Zealands longest river. Aratiatia Power Station was built in 1964 and is owned by Mercury.

Things to do near Aratiatia

From jet boating to river cruising to glass-blowing studios; there are plenty of other activities to enjoy during your visit to Aratiatia Rapids. Find out more on our Nearby page.


Swimming is not permitted at the Aratiatia Rapids. It is extremely dangerous, sadly death and injuries have occurred in the past. The dam can potentially open at anytime.

Before every opening of the dam warning sirens can be heard. Listen out for these warnings and ensure only viewing from a safe viewing point.

STAY OUT of the Aratiatia Rapids spillway and downstream area at ALL times. Never enter, swim or kayak in this area.

PAY ATTENTION to signs, safety warnings and sirens. These safety warnings are in place to keep us all safe.

REMEMBER the only way to stay safe is to stay out of the spillway and downstream area completely.

BE AWARE that planned and unplanned water spills may occur at any time without warning. The spillway is live at all times, even if the siren does not sound


PLEASE CALL 0800 637 111

Cruise to Huka Falls

from Aratiatia Rapids