Waikato River - the Longest River in New Zealand
The Waikato River, meaning "flowing water", is the longest river in New Zealand.
The Waikato River offers a wide range of activities along its long meandering path to the Tasman Sea. It is also the main source of hydro-electricity in the North Island of New Zealand.
The Waikato River's Course
The Waikato River begins as several small streams on the eastern side of Mount Ruapehu, in the Tongariro National Park. From here it flows into Lake Taupo, though this part of the river is known as the Tongariro River.
As the Waikato River leaves Lake Taupo, it cuts through the volcanic plateau flowing north, passing through eight hydro electric dams, and onto the flat plains of the middle Waikato basin or Hamilton lowlands.
After a journey of 425 kilometres from Lake Taupo, the mighty Waikato River flows into the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato.
Waikato River Activities
Waikato River activities include:
- Canoeing, kayaking
- Jet boating, jet skiing
- White water rafting
- Riverside walks
Spillway at the Aratiatia Rapids
The Aratiatia Rapids are located just 10 minutes drive from Taupo township on State Highway 5 towards Rotorua, on the Waikato River. Each day they are flooded at 10:00 am, 12:00 noon, 2:00 pm (winter) and 4:00 pm (summer).
This flooding is caused by the opening of the spillway at the nearby Aratiatia Dam. The spillway is opened to recreate and demonstrate how the river used to flow prior to the dam being built. 90,000 litres is released from the spillway per second.