Huka Huka: Prawns and Falls
From the Kiwi Annison Archives
If we’re ever heading down to Taupo or beyond, one of our favourite spots to call in for a spot of relaxation, great food and good old easy-going kiwi ambience is Huka Prawn Park and its fantastic riverside restaurant.
Situated next to the Waikato River, just a short distance from the powerful Huka Falls, the park breeds and grows tropical prawns (Giant Malaysian River Prawns) using waste geothermal heat from the geothermal power station next door.
It’s quite a bizarre setting; rows of ‘ponds’ where you can fish for prawns, beside the clear waters of the Waikato river, with a constant backdrop of steam issuing from steel pipes winding around the geothermal power plant – and the ever present slight whiff of sulphur.
Don’t be put off by any of this though.
It is a commercial venture, producing up to 32 tonnes of prawns a year, but they’ve done a pretty good job of turning an aquaculture business into a unique visitor attraction.
We first visited the Prawn Park in 2007 when we holidayed in New Zealand in a hired campervan (when we still lived in the UK).
The dull damp weather was our excuse for not catching many prawns – because of course prawns don’t like it wet. Whatever.
Enjoying the fun and games on the activity walk
Trying our luck at Hook-a-prawn (fishing with minimalist canes and lines for the tropical prawns that love to pinch the bait then run away and hide)
But most of all, coming back to that gorgeous restaurant
If you choose to go fishing at the Prawn Park the restaurant will cook any prawns you catch free of charge.
There were five of us fishing and we caught one prawn. Total.
Fortunately there is a wide selection of prawn dishes on the menu, from buckets full of them to platters, curries and delicate prawn pates.
We go back quite often now just to visit the restaurant, but perhaps one day we’ll try the prawn fishing again.
Maybe on a warm sunny day, because we now know prawns don’t like rain. Whatever.
Funny things those prawns.
If you visit the Prawn Park make sure you also go to see the stunning Huka Falls nearby, they are the largest falls on the Waikato River and one of the most visited natural attractions in New Zealand.
Water from Lake Taupo drains into the Waikato River which is normally 100m wide but at Huka up to 220,000 litres of water a second are squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20m drop.
Which ever way you choose to view it, just make sure that you do.