My first visit to Taupo, New Zealand came over Labour Day weekend in October 2015. During this trip we visited Huka Prawn Park which shares a parking lot with the Hukafalls Jet. Instantly I added the Hukafalls Jet to my bucket list! Due to age restrictions on kids and weather cancellations, it took almost two years to finally check off this item.
The trip to the Hukafalls Jet happened shortly before our Sydney move and thanks to a friend accompanying me down on a last-minute day trip. The experience did not disappoint with its racing speed, 360 degree spins and up-close look at the powerful Huka Falls. Though I will say it is not for the weak stomach. My legs were a bit shaky exiting the boat and a few minutes into the ride another passenger requested off.
The Hukafalls Jet is the only licensed fast boat traveling down the Waikato River from the Aratiatia Dam to base of the roaring Huka Falls. This waterfall is New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction and for good reason based on the volume of water flowing over the falls. They say it is enough to fill an olympic swimming pool in 11 seconds!
Once arriving at the admissions office, we purchased tickets and then walked down to the loading area for pre-ride pictures (to be purchased afterwards) and equipment distribution. They handed out a parka and life jacket. There was not a cloud in the sky on this particular Fall morning though the air was chilly. You can see the water clarity of the Waikato River on one side and geothermal activity off to the other side.
Once we were on board the jet boat, they went over safety rules and snapped group photos before beginning the practice spins near the dock. Once everyone had a feel for the boat, the driver took off at max speed down the river (up to 80 km/hr). We headed towards the Aratiatia Dam first making multiple 360 degree turns along the way. Each time the driver would spin he signaled with an arm circular motion. Though this did not always indicate which direction the spin would occur by veering left before sharply cutting back to the right. There is a reason they ask for you to keep your hands free to grip the front bar. Thank goodness for heated hand bars!
The driver stopped briefly at the Aratiatia Dam to talk about its importance before jetting off again in the opposite direction. This time we headed for the popular Huka Falls. The driver paused briefly allowing for photos and video and to talk about the waterfall. I learned Huka means “foam” in Maori. We lucked out and a rainbow appeared across the falls while we were stopped. He made a small detour away from the Huka Falls to show us another VERY tiny waterfall nearby as a joke. Then back to the raging waterfall for a few more circles before speeding away.
We headed in the direction of the dock zipping in and out of bushes and trees and appearing to aim at cliffs before cutting another 360 degree turn. Check us out riding in the jet boat below. I was the only one with a GoPro on my head. Sure I look a bit silly but considering the group instant replay failed to work that day…. makes me the only person with a video of the ride!
The entire experience lasted 30 minutes. Once we exited the boat, they gave us an option to buy the professional photos already printed and for additional cost download copies. Great way to spend an afternoon in Taupo for any adrenaline junkie. If you really want to make it an adventure day then I highly recommend the Taupo Bungy and Swing too!