This is another one of my favourite places I have been so far here in New Zealand.
Maori Hapu (sub-tribes) lived and worked in this area centuries before the arrival of Europeans. They understood and made use of the volcanic and geothermal landscape, cultivating land, harvesting fish and gathering kokowai (red ochre) from the hydro-thermally altered soil.
In the 1870s, Europeans began to settle at the outlet of the Waikato River, on the edge of lake Taupo. As Sergeant Talty predicted the region’s attractions gained International Repute and Huka Falls became a ‘must-see’ on young New Zealand’s tourist itinerary.
As the 20th century progressed, the Waikato developed into one of the country’s major electricity-producing rivers. It supplies eight hydro-electric stations and provides them with cooling water for three other stations, two of them geothermal and one thermal. The Waikato River system produces about 15% of New Zealand’s power.
I love that one side of the river was so rough and dangerous and then the other end looks so peaceful. It was cray to see the two comparisons so closely together.
I even got to pose with the falls just behind me.
About 200,000 litres of water plunge through the nine metres over the great rock face of Huka Falls every second – that is enough to fill five Olympic swimming pools every minute. Such a momentous flow of water creates a dangerous undertow at the bottom of the falls. This has claimed the lives of many of those who try to raft the falls.
Further upstream of the falls is the Waikato River and it is clear and reflective. After plunging over the falls it picks up masses of tumbling air bubbles which create the breathtaking colours and give the falls their name. Huka, the Maori word for foam.
The flow over the falls is so strong it prevents the upstream migration for trout and other native fish like eels. This is why there are no eels in Lake Taupo.
Below is Reid’s farm and it is a beautiful spot to freedom camp. It has toilets too, which is rare for freedom camping. There are no showers but that’s fine for a poor mans shower for one night isn’t too bad.
It is further down the same Waikato River.
There were people bungee jumping here which was amazing to watch – even made me wonder if I want to do it… watch this space.