One for you waterfall huckers out there. Get hard, be brave and try some new trick off the edge if you dare.
It is a fun outing and most people catch the falls at low flows (35-80cumecs) for their first time. The lead in is quite manageable and there is plenty of time to hit the left line at the finish. It is possible to flat land the drop and keep your face dry – honest. At higher flows you’ll get very wet!
As far as the law goes I would suggest prudence in your timing – go either early in the morning or later in the evening. It is often concerned, but ill informed tourists that call the police.
To get to the put in: Huka Falls is on the Waikato River 4km below Taupo. Follow signs. If you can’t find it yourself you certainly won’t find your way off the edge.
Huka (huka = foaming or like sugar) was paddled for the first time in December 1981 by Greg Oke and Nick Kerkham. Like many of the hard case first descents in the early eighties these guys were in fiberglass slalom boats (they only used one set of gear and swopped it over after each run). By 1985 the falls had been paddled about a dozen times and even by some guy on a tube! Things got sticky through the late 1980’s when a couple of people were carted off by police to be supposedly fined $10k under some ridiculous scheme initiated by the Taupo Harbourmaster. This absurdity prompted a series of editorial discussions nationwide championing our ‘right to adventure’. Thank goodness common sense prevailed and nothing has been heard about it since.
Huka gained national notoriety from a series of (hopefully unrelated) events: a kayaker died in an attempt in 1993 then Pete Plumley-Walker drowned when a dodgy bondage and discipline gig went wrong, he was bound and gagged at the time! There are even rumours of someone in the 1980’s who tried four times to commit suicide by swimming over the falls – they always washed out the bottom – wouldn’t that rip your undies!
Huka has now been hucked in almost everyway imaginable: hand paddled, double kayaked, wave wheeled, splatted and run repeated times in one day. Nikki Kelly, of course, made the first female run in 1996.