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Aratiatia Rapids dam slipway opens providing dramatic free entertainment

  • 2 minutes

Taupo, New Zealand

Taupo free attraction

Aratiatia Rapids is a very popular free attraction in Taupo, North Island. The bubbling stream below the sluice gates is transformed into a massive torrent of flowing water. Listen for the siren and watch the first trickles of water and then the action starts.

Dam gates at Aratiatia Taupo, NZ
Dam gates at Aratiatia Taupo, NZ

Aratiatia Rapids dam slipway opening

Enjoy a touch of drama, as you are in the right place. Anticipation builds as the siren repeats its call to action. The release of millions of litres of water is dramatic due to the sudden rise in river water level. For people who have mobility issues view the action from the dam bridge.

Check with the Aratiatia Dam site for opening times as they vary according to the season and weather conditions.


With smaller children move to the higher lookout point to view the dam spill gate opening. The path is easier to navigate and there is a concrete platform for shorter people to stand on for an uninterrupted view.

What to do nearby the Aratiatia Dam?

Nearby Aratiatia Dam is the Huka Falls walking track. Lace up the walking boots and walk to another spectacular watery site, the Huka falls.

Aratiatia Dam viewing sites: Road bridge opposite car park (with requisite coffee cart in attendance). There are toilets in the carpark. There are two short walks to viewing platforms are well signposted. Walks between 15 – 20 minutes.

Aratiatia Dam sluice gates opened, New Zealand
Aratiatia Dam sluice gates opened, New Zealand

Free entry, no admission charges.

Aratiatia Dam car parking location. 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.

No, there are no dams nearby Aratiatia Dam that release water on a regular basis.

Yes, you can walk from Taupo to the Aratiatia Dam. It’s 7 km (one way). See Aratiatia Rapids tracks – Taupo area for details.

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. Check beforehand for any changes to avoid disappointment.

IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING (Aratiatia Dam online resource)

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.

Aratiatia Dam sluice gate opening is a major free attraction in the North Island. For more information about free things to do in Taupo or Taupo visitor attractions check out the following.

Waikato River rapids at Aratiatia, Taupo, New Zealand
Waikato River rapids at Aratiatia, Taupo, New Zealand

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.


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