Tongariro Fishing Locations

Trout & Fly Fishing

There are many exceptional Tongariro fishing locations within 5 minutes – 1hr drive from Riverstone Lodge & Backpackers. It is not only the number and quality of trout in the Tongariro Region but also the variety of different environments and fishing experiences within a short distance that appeals. There are mountain streams surrounded by lush native bush requiring a degree of walking, or small-medium sized rivers, often right next to state highways! Before you go be sure to check the fishing gear & methods and weather and water conditions sections of this site

Tongariro River Riverstone Recommendation

Tongariro River

Tongariro River

Each winter tens of thousands of trout use this beautiful river for massive migratory spawning runs to the headwaters and tributaries. It is estimated that one third of all Lake Taupo rainbow trout run the Tongariro River predominantly from July– November, although in recent years the timing of these ‘runs’ are becoming more variable. The average size of the rainbows is about 3lb.

The Bridge Pool is famous Tongariro fishing location and is a 4 minute walk from our front door, where trophy brown trout can be found. Brown trout run between January-June and in recent years have averaged about 5lb, though fish over 10lb are regularly caught. This area of the river is also a great place for the beginner as the water is easy to fish.

Above the SH1 road bridge in Turangi township there are several access points off Taupehi Rd. including through Te Aho Rd, at the back of Taupehi Reserve, Poto St, Kutai St and Koura St where you can cross the river at the Major Jones swing bridge.

Above the town area there is another 7km of water below the Tongariro River Gorge, with access points from SH1 at the Admirals Pool, behind the Tongariro National Trout Centre, and at the Red Hutt swing bridge. The access to the upper river below the gorge is from the dirt road on the left just after you drive over the Poutu Stream on SH1 south of Turangi.

To access to the middle reaches an alternative to using a car is to cross the Major Jones Swing Bridge in Turangi and walk up to the Red Hut Swing Bridge (3hr return). Some of these tracks are shared with cyclists and walkers on the Tongariro River Trail, a loop which you could complete back to your vehicle making for a long day trip.

Below the SH1 bridge in Turangi there is another 5km of fishable water, though the pools tend to become slower moving, more difficult to reach and more snag infested the lower you go. Fish tend not to hold so long in these stretches when they are running but the area is known for the large and difficult to catch Brown Trout that reside here from December each year.

Tongariro National Trout Centre

The Tongariro National Trout Centre has an interesting collection of Tongariro trout fishing memorabilia and runs fresh water ecology, conservation classes and learner fishing days for children. The Centre is situated on the banks of the Tongariro River off SH1 3km south of Turangi. It can also be visited as part of a walk or bike ride along the Tongariro River Trails and there is good fishing right behind the Trout Centre.

Small River & Stream Fishing

Waitahanui River

Waitahanui River

If you prefer small streams using a 6-weight rod and fly line try the Waimarino, the Waiotaka, Waitahanui or the Hinemaiaia rivers. The Tauranga-Taupo River is suitable for the 9-weight style set-up or 6-weight depending on the anglers experience and water levels. For those seeking solitude the upper reaches are recommended.

There are also a number of superb rivers and streams around the mountain near Ohakune, National Park and Taumaranui (all within 1hr drive), though to make the most of these areas a fly fishing guide is recommended . Forr fishing these rivers you will need a Fish and Game national licence which allows you to fish everywhere else in NZ outside the Taupo Fishery.

Stream Mouths & Lakeshore

From June–September trout are found at stream mouths prior to beginning their spawning runs. Fishing at the stream mouths is best when the barometric pressure is dropping prior to a ‘fresh’ of water going through the rivers which may trigger the fish to congregate near the stream mouths before, beginning their spawning runs to the rivers headwaters. Fishing at the Tongariro River Delta can be sensational at this time and a fishing guide and boat can be arranged through Riverstone Backpackers.

From December – March trout can often be found within easy reach of the shoreline chasing spawning smelt in the shallows and stream mouths. Night or change of light fishing at the smaller stream mouths is especially popular at this time. The Waimarino, Tauranga Taupo and Waitahanui Rivers on the eastern side of the lake and the Omori, Kuratau and Whareroa streams on the southwestern side are recommended.

Lake Otamangakau & Lake Rotoaira Riverstone Recommendation

Lake Otamangakau

Lake Otamangakau

Lake Otamangakau, Lake ‘O’ or the ‘Big O’ is one of the few Tongariro fishing locations with a reputation for consistently producing trophy fish (10lb plus), but is also a challenging lake to fish. About 60% of the trout in the lake are Rainbows, with an average weight of 4lb. The lake is 25 minutes from Riverstone Backpackers and adjacent to the Tongariro National Park with spectacular views of the mountains.

Shoreline angling, float tubes, kayak and boat fishing are all popular and fishing from an un-powered vessel is most successful as it allows the angler to reach the maximum amount of water, with the least disturbance to the fish.

The standard still water nymphing technique is to use 1 or 2 nymphs below a dry fly or indicator and either stalk the large Browns that cruise the lake margins, or fish ‘blind’ with a longer leader and small indicator to the rainbows feeding in the channels between the weed banks.

For a similar style of fishing with smaller and easier to catch fish try Lake Kuratau west of Turangi past Tokaanu & Pukawa, or Lake Rotoaira which requires a special licence.

Wilderness River Fishing Riverstone Recommendation

Wilderness River

Wilderness River

In the summer between 40 minutes and 2 hours drive from Turangi, there are many small and large rivers offering solitude and large trout. This style of fishing necessitates lighter gear and smaller flies often fished on or near the surface. If you are keen for a total sensory experience in some of the more beautiful parts of NZ then this sort of fishing is for you, and we recommend hiring a fly fishing guide. Some of these waters may be outside the Taupo fishery and require a Fish & Game national license.

Online Access Information

Fish & Game NZ – licenses and guide books on all national license fisheries and access points
NZ Fishing.com – good information on where to go and useful maps
DOC Taupo Fishery – access points, how to, local licenses and regulations
Walking Access Commission – access along rivers lakes and coasts

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