Before construction of the dam and hydro station, the Aratiatia Rapids were a prominent feature on the Waikato River, and became a scenic reserve in 1906. The dam construction meant that no water flowed over the rapids. However, several times a day, the Aratiatia dam gates are opened, which restores the rapids to their normal operation.
There are three lookout points to watch the Dam release into the rapids, watching the release is a popular tourist attraction.
In Māori, aratiatia means "stairway" or "ladder", possibly referring to the zigzag shape of the rapids, or possibly referring to the path (ara) of Tia, an explorer who travelled up the rapids against the current.
- "Our picturesque heritage: 100 years" (PDF). Department of Conservation. 2003.
- "About the Aratiatia Rapids". Destination Great Lake Taupo. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- "Aratiatia Rapids". Love Taupo.
- Reed, A.W. (1975). Place names of New Zealand. Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed. p. 16.