Spa Park to Huka Falls

Spa Park – Huka Falls Walkway is a two hour return walk that follows the Waikato River to the Huka Falls.

Spa Thermal Park Huka Falls Walkway

Spa Park – Huka Falls Walkway

The walk starts at Spa Thermal Park, which is at the end of County Ave (off Spa Road). Gates are locked between 8pm and 7am.  At 41 hectares the park is one of Taupo’s largest parks. There is an excellent children’s playground onsite.

It’s approximately a five minute walk across Spa Park to the start of the track.

Spa Thermal Park

Spa Thermal Park

It is a 2.6 km easy track that is approximately 50 minutes one way to Huka Falls. Cyclists are not permitted on the Spa Park to Huka Falls walkway. Cyclists are recommended to take the Rotary Ride track.

Near the start of the track is a bridge that crosses Otumuheke Stream, a natural hot stream that follows into the Waikato River. Residents and visitors visit to soak in the natural hot pool.

Otumere Stream follows into Waikato River creating natural hot pool

Otumuheke Stream follows into Waikato River creating natural hot pool

The walk follows the Waikato River offering views of Reid’s Farm Recreation Reserve and Huka Lodge. Two very different forms of accommodation – Reid’s Farm, a free camping site and Huka Lodge, a luxurious lodge that attracts royalty and movie stars.

The Waikato River is New Zealand’s longest river running 425 km through the North Island. It drains at the north eastern edge of Lake Taupo, later creating the Huka Falls and then flowing northeast across the Waikato plains and draining into the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato.

Waikato River

Waikato River

View of Huka Lodge

View of Huka Lodge

The Huka Falls is formed when the Waikato River, which is normally up to 100 metres wide, narrows to just 15 metres causing a large volume of water to collide as it passes through a narrow gorge of hard volcanic rock. Approximately 220,000 litres of water passes per second creating an impressive waterfall.

The word Huka means foam in Māori – you can see where it got its name from when you see the falls.

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Huka Falls

Huka Falls

Riverside Park Taupo

Riverside Park is located within the Tongariro Domain on the banks of the Waikato River.

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Riverside Park 

Riverside Park officially opened in November 2007 on the site of the former Taupo Motor Camp, which closed in 2006 after the lease expired. Public opinion was divided when the camping ground closed, as it had been a popular camping site since the 1930s. Today Riverside Park is popular with locals and visitors.

The park has plenty of seating, tables and green space for picnicking and relaxing. There are a mature beech trees in the park that were donated from former mayor Clayton Stent’s own property.

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Riverside Park

There is a large boardwalk that runs alongside the Waikato River. The boardwalk turns into a concrete pathway, which makes for a nice short walk. Visitors can exit the park and cross the road by Control Gate Bridge and continue along the banks of the Waikato River to Spa Thermal Park or walk along Tongariro Street to the main shopping district.

Boardwalk, Riverside Park

Boardwalk, Riverside Park

Riverside Park

Riverside Park

In the park carved into three stones are words from the poems ‘Waikato River’, ‘A Preference for River’ and ‘My Poems’, from Rowley Habib’s poetry collection The Raw Men – Selected Poems 1954 – 2004. Habib’s mother was of Ngati Ruingarangi hapu, a sub tribe of local iwi Ngati Tuwharetoa and Habib grew up in Taupo and attended Taupo Public School.

Poetry from Rowley Habib

Poetry from Rowley Habib

The Unison Amphitheatre is grassed amphitheatre that provides seating for up to 15,000 people and is used for outdoor concerts and events during the summer months.

Also held every Saturday from 10am to 1pm is the Riverside Market, which has various stalls selling produce, breads, crafts, art, clothing, jewellery, cosmetics and more.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park