Location: There is a car park at the Aratiatia Dam, on Aratiatia Road, off SH5.
Track grade: DOC: Easiest – Short Walk (from Dam car park to top viewpoint). A sturdy pram would probably make it all the way along, but the Mid Viewpoint has some steps and uneven ground.
Track Times: DOC times: 5 Minutes to Mid Viewpoint and 10 Minutes to Top Viewpoint Forest Family: We were just a bit quicker than the DOC times, with a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old.
Highlights: The change in river flow is spectacular. What starts out to be calm beautiful pools and a trickling stream running through the gorge soon turns into a raging torrent. We watched from the Top Viewpoint and it was amazing to watch the floodgates open and the gorge slowly transform. As it takes a few minutes for the flow to make its way down, I would recommend first watching the release from the bridge and then taking the track out to the viewpoints.
Note: The Dam opens 3 -4 times a day at 10 am; 12 noon; 2 pm (and also 4 pm 1 October – 31 March). There is one long drop toilet at the car park, this is a busy tourist spot so during dam release times there is a cue. Dogs Allowed 🐶 🤗.