What are impressive are the thick, tumbling rapids above the falls. The hundred-metre-wide river is cut abruptly to just 15m as it crosses a hard volcanic ledge. Almost 250 cusecs (that's 250000 litres per second!) passes through this narrow chute and under a pedestrian bridge, before before bursting out of its rapids, over the 11m falls, and back, but still shaken and milky, into the leisurely sprawl of the Waikato River.
This popular track follows the river above the falls, and combines well with other activities in the area.
You can set off from central Taupo on foot or drive to the Spa Park. Also, regular shuttle transport makes a circuit of the local highlights, with stops at the Huka Falls and at the Taupo Bungy near the beginning of the track. If walking from the town centre, head north along Tongariro Street and turn right onto Spa Road. (If you attempt to follow the river, you may be charmed by the scenic "Taupo Pollution Control Plant" and its large, swirling sewage treatment tanks. But then again, you may not be.) The Falls are directly accessible by car. Tongariro Street leads onto SH1 and crosses the Waikato. Huka Falls Road turns off to the right soon after.
Spa Park - Huka Falls: 1hr, easy
The Taupo Bungy site, near the walkway's start, provides excellent views down into the river's gorge with its tall white pumice cliffs. Beyond here, County Avenue leads into the Spa Park car park. The walkway sets off across the rolling grass, and down toward the river. Don't be surprised if you encounter groups of people in bathing gear ascending the hillside toward you at the water's edge a small hot water creek leads into the river, providing a free, hot swim.
Following the river, the track passes through exotic and regenerating forest, and climbs away from the river to afford good views of cliffs, mid-channel islands, and the Huka Falls Lodge on the far bank. It drops back closer and closer to the river as the Falls draw near, and as the rapids roar louder and louder. Finally cutting through the leafy regrowth, the track opens onto a series of viewing balconies along the edge of the channel, and bridge to a car park.