The Waikato River (Waikato Te Awa) after passing Huka Falls 6km upstream naturally falls 28 metres in the space of 1 km. This water flow has been harnessed by the Aratiatia Dam to create hydroelectric power sustainably for the region, and the Aratiatia rapids for Rapids Jet!
The gates of the Aratiatia Dam are opened three times a day in winter and 4 times a day in Summer. The opening of the Aratiatia Dam gates releases 80,000 litres of water per second, passing through the Aratiatia Dam gates create a stunning display but also the adventure ride that is Rapids Jet!
To experience the opening of the gates at Aratiatia Dam there are several great viewing points, on the bridge beside the dam, or take the 5 minute walking track down to the rocks beside the river and up to the ridge line where you can see over the whole area.
Due to the natural scenery the Aratiatia rapids have featured in many movies over the years including the Hobbit, let us know if you see any Dwarves floating down stream. It is rumoured a couple liked it so much they stayed!
Here is the Scene from the movie