Aratiatia is the first hydro power station on the Waikato River. There are 9 hydro power stations of which, Aratiatia has the smallest hydro reservoir.
The total kilowatt output is 84,000kw. Aratiatia power station was completed in 1964 making it the eighth and second to last power station to be built on the Waikato river. The ninth and last station to be completed was Maraetai 2 in 1970.
Aratiatia is located 13km downstream from Lake Taupo control gates and 7km downstream of Huka falls. Huka falls and Aratiatia Rapids are two attractions that have to be seen while you are in Taupo! To view the Aratiatia Rapids you can watch off the road bridge or walk through to the mid or top lookout.
These lookouts are on Aratiatia Road off SH5, opposite side of the road from the main carpark and Huka Falls River cruise jetty. The midway lookout allows you to be a lot closer to the rapids and offers a great vantage point for photos.
Aratiatia Rapids Movie location
Films like the Hobbit, Yogi Bear and Without a paddle have all shot scenes at the Aratiatia Dam
Why do the Aratiatia Dam gates open?
Mercury Energy releases water down the Aratiatia Rapids several times a day. The dam opening attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. As part of Mercury Energy's legislative compliance a minimum 65,000 litres per second is released each time which takes 15 minutes and re-create's one of the top free tourist attractions in Taupo, the Aratiatia Rapids
Aratiatia Dam Control Gates open daily (3o minutes before Cruise departs) ...
10am, 12pm, 2pm all year round and also 4pm in Summer months
Check out this video on how quickly the water level rises. Provided by Mercury Energy - Aratiatia Rapids Video
Swimming, fishing, Kayaking and being in the river in the Aratiatia rapids area is not permitted. The water levels and opening of the gates may occur at different times than stated and if caught out in the flow can cause injury and even death.