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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NZ’s Most Visited Attraction Outdoors?

Huka Falls first drop-off point.  Eventually will post my video of
the falls so you can hear the mighty roar of its water.
Not edited; water's really this aqua.  Taupo, New Zealand.

Maybe it is. 

It’s free.  The access is quick and easy with two sizeable parking lots, pleasant walkways and several photo-op-worthy viewing platforms. Part of the Waikato River, Huka Falls is only a few hundred meters from Lake Taupo, in the heart of New Zealand’s popular thermal country. 


Waikato River, just above Huka Falls.  Note the shadows
on the bridge, where the photo was taken from.

Most of all, it’s not every day you get to see brilliant aqua water spiked with crisp white foam thundering down a small canyon at 220,000 liters (over 58,000 gallons) a second.  That may be small potatoes compared to the highest volume waterfall of all, Boyoma Falls, formerly known as Stanley Falls, which pumps out over 17 million liters per second.  Then again, how many of us plan to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo? 






One of several excellent viewing platforms at the
Huka Falls walk.  This one looks back at the
bridge crossing over the Waikato River.
Huka Falls is a beautiful visual illustration of the Venturi effect, as the Waikato, New Zealand’s longest river, narrows from 100 meters to 15 meters before it practically explodes out the canyon into a waterfall, cascading down 35 feet via a series of falls into aqua pools and frothy rapids. A New Zealand website explains, “The effect is nature's large-scale equivalent of a fire hose feeding into a very fine nozzle.”

No wonder the company that manages Huka Falls flow for hydropower is called Mighty River Power!  Mighty River Power provides between 8-9% of New Zealand’s power.  








According to the New Zealand Herald, “Starting at Lake Taupo [the largest freshwater lake in all of Australasia], [the Waikato] runs 425km [264 miles] to the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato.  As [the Waikato] flows north and out to the West Coast. [It] runs through farms, towns and Hamilton, surges over rapids, fills lakes behind eight dams and spins turbines at nine hydro stations that produce electricity for the national grid. Before the dams were built, it took six days for a drop of water to reach the sea from Lake Taupo. Now it takes a month.”

If all that beauty and power isn’t sufficiently dramatic, it might intrigue you to learn that a little over 25 years ago, Huka Falls was the drop site for a kinky celebrity corpse.  Per Wikipedia, “The falls featured in a national scandal in February 1989 when the body of cricket umpire Peter Plumley-Walker was found downstream, with wrists and ankles bound. The resulting investigation exposed the Auckland bondage scene. Dominatrix Renee Chignall was acquitted of his murder after three trials.”

Noticed these balloons on the Waikato River both above and below
Huka Falls.  Were they sent off just for fun?  Or a way to track or
monitor flow direction?  Dunno.
I went to visit Huka Falls when Christina, the same Kiwi who directed us to the fun little New Zealand town of New Plymouth, lit up when she described Huka Falls as “a very special place.”

I agree.  While Huka Falls isn’t the reason to visit New Zealand, if you’re in the Lake Taupo area, it’s a darn fine way to spend a half hour and walk away with a great sense of satisfaction.

My favorite viewpoint at Huka Falls, New Zealand,
on the Waikato River, near Taupo.


Location Location
We're still on a pole mooring in Whangarei's Town Basin Marina (S35.43.414 E174.19.539).  Weather and to-dos-done permitting, we'll likely leave Whangarei as early as April 28th, 2016, for checkout then to Fiji.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles.  Current plan's to resume cruising by this May.  First stop's Fiji, ~1170 nm, which will take us about two weeks to get to once we clear New Zealand customs and set sail.  We plan to sell our boat in Australia, after completing another 4,000 or so miles this cruising season.  Then, it's back to work, somewhere.