Notable Waters: Tongariro and Waitahanui Rivers

This expansive crater lake, together with its inflowing streams is one of the world’s most outstanding trout fisheries.

The Taupo fishery is an exclusive zone administered by the Department of Conservation and anglers require a special licence to fish here.

The fishery includes Lake Taupo and all the rivers and streams flowing into the lake as well as Lakes Otamangakau, Rotoaira, Karutau and Moawhango and the Waikato River down to Huka Falls. Fishing methods tend to reflect seasonal patterns here. Lake trolling and river mouth fly-fishing are the norm in spring and summer. By mid-summer warmer water drives the trout deeper and downriggers and lead lines are needed. When spawning migrations begin in autumn, anglers revert to fly fishing in the rivers with weighted flies, and this river running bonanza continues to September.

The Tongariro is a world-famous river, where trout lurk in deep water pools, hugging the shadows and eyeing the surface eddies for passing flies and nymphs. Some of these pools are now the stuff of legends. The Major Jones, Red Hut, and Hydro pools are classic fishing spots with well-earned reputations.

Turangi township, situated on the Tongariro River, proclaims itself as the ‘Trout Fishing Capital of the World’. The town has excellent fishing lodges with facilities for cleaning, smoking, freezing and vacuum packing. Restaurants will cook your trout catches for dinner. The Tongariro Trout Hatchery is just south of the town and has a public underwater viewing chamber.

The Waitahanui is so popular that the solid wall of regular anglers at the river mouth is known colloquially as ‘The Picket Fence’. The Hinemaiaia stream (also known as the Hatepe) bustles down through heavy undergrowth and requires skilful nymphing to lure these vigorous fighting fish and ‘strike gold’. The Tauranga-Taupo River fish respond well to either nymph or fly lures and especially dry flies in summer when post-spawning fish become avid feeders.

Guided fly-fishing and lake trolling trips can be arranged with a number of professional guides in Taupo, Turangi and Poronui Station. Heli fishing and 4WD trips to remote wilderness rivers such as the Mohaka, Ngaruroro, Rangitikei and Ripia are also available.