“Aratiatia Rapids are formed when the dam gates of the Waikato River are opened a few times a day. The rapids were used in the filming of Peter Jackson's movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
To view the Aratiatia Rapids gradually filling up, make sure you arrive a few minutes before the dam is due to release. There are three lookout points on the high rock bluffs that overlook the river.
Aratiatia Rapids is not a safe place to swim. The dam can release water at any time and without warning.
Summer release hours - 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm
Winter release hours - 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm
Escape of the dwarves in The Hobbit moviev Some of the most memorable scenes from Peter Jackson's movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, are the dwarves escaping from the captivity of the Elves by hiding in barrels which were thrown down stream. Filming was done at two locations, the Aratiatia Rapids on the Waikato River, and the South Island’s beech tree-lined Pelorus River in the Marlborough region.
Aratiatia Rapids were an ideal setting for the scene because the spillway turned the otherwise dry gorge into a fast flowing waterfall.
The film crew dropped 20 to 25 barrels down the rapids every time there was a dam release which was at 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm. They worked with a local river company to safely release and retrieve the barrels.
The Hobbit crew spent two days shooting the scene. For your peace of mind, you will be happy to know that no actors or stunt crew were forced into the barrels as they were released on the rapids.
The Hobbit story is about the adventure of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins who goes in search of treasure with 13 dwarfs. The scene shot along the Aratiatia rapids is part of an escape where Bilbo Baggins rescues the dwarfs from elves by hiding them in barrels which float downstream.
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