Fishing Locations and Access
The Auckland/Waikato Region offers widely diverse freshwater fishing opportunities with many lake, river and backcountry fisheries, most with easy access and high scenic values.
Three lakes within an hour’s drive of Auckland City are regularly stocked with trout, and wild trout are abundant in the Mangatawhiri and Mangatangi reservoirs.
There is also good trout fishing in the Coromandel ranges. Most rivers have easy access and great scenery. Further south there are numerous spring-fed trout streams in the south Waikato, and many backcountry fisheries throughout the King Country include the headwaters of the Waipa, Whanganui, Whakapapa, and Awakino rivers.
The Waikato River has an abundant brown trout population, and the hydro lakes provide excellent lake fishing. Coarse fisheries are present in most lakes north of Hamilton, including Lake Pupuke and Hamilton Lake. Good coarse fishing is also available in the lower Waikato and Whangamarino rivers.
If you would like a copy of our brochure, Getting Started in Freshwater Fishing, or copies of any of the brochures listed below, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Fish & Game New Zealand, Auckland/Waikato Region, RD 9, Hamilton or email: email@example.com
New to freshwater fishing?
In general anglers troll the hydro lakes slowly using a black or gold Toby spinner, Rapalas or Tasmanian Devils.
Bank fishing is limited but fly fishing, casting spinners or soft baits, are all productive.
This website has lots of fishing tips in Getting Started - click here
The Waikato River trail offers access below Arapuni Dam to some prime water but the area is largely blocked by willows.
Please view the documents at the bottom of this page to download access brochures.
Waikato River & Hydro Lakes
- Waikato River
- Lake Karapiro
- Pokaiwhenua & Little Waipa Streams
- Lake Arapuni & Dam walkways
- Lake Waipapa
Waipa River System
Waihou River System
Whanganui River System
Marokopa River System
Lake Whatihua (Thomsons)
This very small lake is situated beside the Waiuku-Kariotahi Road about 1.5km back from Kariotahi Beach. It is fishable around the shore but permission is required from the local landowner.
This large water reservoir holds wild fish and is also stocked with rainbow trout. At present access is restricted to the dam wall, but limited boat access is available to members of the Auckland Freshwater Anglers Club. Access on foot is from State Highway 2 (Auckland-Thames) and then Mangatangi, Kaiaua and Workman Roads.
The large water reservoir holds wild rainbow trout. At present access for anglers is restricted to the dam wall. Access is via the village of Hunua, then south on Hunua Road, and then Moumoukai Road.
WAIKATO RIVER & HYDRO LAKES:
The Waikato River holds a huge trout population. Brown trout are plentiful throughout the length of the river, while rainbows are abundant upstream of Hamilton. The best fishing is generally at twilight or after dark.
The lower river fishes best during the winter months, while there's good fishing throughout the year in the upper reaches.
Popular spots include beneath the Karapiro Dam (track on western side), and the Karapiro Stream mouth at Cambridge. Good fishing water can also be accessed from riverside tracks in Hamilton and Cambridge.
This is the most accessible of the three Waikato River hydro lakes with good public access from State Highway 1, five public boat ramps, and extensive walking tracks.
Because Lake Karapiro is only 30 minutes from Hamilton, the lake is popular for aquatic sports, especially water skiing, but most angling occurs in the upper reaches where there’s a speed restriction due to the high wilderness values.
The upper reaches of Karapiro provide the region’s main trophy fishery – rainbows average 2kg and brown trout, nearly 4kg. Fish of double figures (10lb-plus) are not uncommon.
During October and November, the fishing can be hot, especially after dark, as big fish feed voraciously on smelt. Over the summer months there’s often a massive caddis fly rise in the evenings and again, the fishing in the upper reaches can be spectacular.
Access for shore-based anglers is available from Horahora Road. The stretch of water from the Little Waipa upstream to the tailrace can be very productive, especially for the evening rise.
The mouths of the Pokaiwhenua and Little Waipa streams are popular with anglers, although weed can be a problem at Waipa.
Trolling is popular in the main body of Karapiro. The boat ramp at the mouth of the Little Waipa Stream is recommended as it provides good access to the best fishing water in the upper reaches of the reservoir lake. It is an offence to fish from a boat in the tailrace (upstream from the white marker post) unless the boat is securely anchored.
Access to the Pokaiwhenua River is available across farmland either via Putaruru-Arapuni Road, State Highway 1, Horahora Road or from Hildreth Road. Landowner permission is required and access to good water can be gained from at least nine properties.
Access to the Little Waipa is from Putaruru-Arapuni, Pearsons, or Old Taupo roads. Good water that is rarely fished can also be reached across private farmland from Huihuitaha Road – well worth the extra effort. Aquatic weeds combined with generally very clear water make this a challenging stream to fish.
This lake is the most popular trout fishery in the Auckland/Waikato Region attracting anglers with its excellent boat ramps, good catch rates, and great scenery especially in the upper reaches.
Most of the trout caught in Arapuni are rainbows averaging about 1.5kg with the occasional fish over 2.5kg. Only about five per cent of the trout caught are browns but they are often huge, and Arapuni provides anglers with a real chance of catching a trophy.
The lake offers good trolling water although weed can be a problem in some places. There are boat ramps located around the lake – the most popular are the Jones and Arapuni landings at the northern end of the lake.
In the upper reaches, shore-based fishing below the Waipapa Dam and the mouths of the Tumai and Mangawhio Streams can be productive. Access to the Mangawhio is by the new Waikato River Trail (1.5km) from the boat ramp about one kilometre below the Waipapa Dam.
The lower reaches of the Mangawhio Stream, about 700m of water, are open all year. Access to the Tumai Stream is via the old Waikato River Trail starting from the eastern side of the Waipapa Dam.
In the middle reaches, access to several beaches can be gained from Landing Road (metal road). In the lower reaches, the Arapuni Dam and bridge are popular locations (see section on Arapuni Dam walkways).
Lake Arapuni is stocked annually in October with 16 month-old and 12-20cm rainbow trout that grow to legal size by mid-January of the following year. All springs, rivers and streams entering Lake Arapuni are closed to fishing except for those mentioned above.
Arapuni Dam walkways
An extensive track system provides access to many fishing spots in the vicinity of the Arapuni Dam including popular fishing spots at Brandon’s Pool (see map below) and the Arapuni tailrace. Additionally, hundreds of fish are caught annually from the Arapuni bridge just above the dam on Arapuni Road.
Access to the confluence of the tailrace and spillway can be reached from a track starting from the Arapuni Village (parking behind the bowling club) that leads to a swing bridge across the river. Once across the swing bridge, you’ll see concrete steps on the opposite side of the road.
Walk up the steps and then around the transformer station (to the North) where a gravel road leads down to the tailrace/spillway confluence. The road down to the confluence is about 2km, and after 1.5km an unmarked track on the right leads to Brandon’s Pool.
There are other fishing spots in this area, including small backwaters and several boulder walls between the confluence and Brandon’s Pool. As yet there are no tracks to these areas, but you’re welcome to find your own way.
The Waikato River Trail, from Arapuni Road to the mouth of the Little Waipa, passes many good fishing spots including productive water in the Arapuni tailrace.
The Arapuni bridge is popular with anglers who use light spinning gear with a small ball sinker with a smelt fly or soft bait, which is bounced along the river bed.
After capture, trout are retrieved from the water by using a basket or net on a rope, or by reeling fish up onto the bridge.
This lake (right) is favoured by anglers seeking peace and solitude, provided by its scenic surroundings of forests and towering bluffs. As the most isolated of the Waikato hydro lakes, Waipapa is little used for water-based recreation other than fishing.
Access to the lake is provided by a good boat ramp located at the northern end of the lake just south of the dam.
Trolling is effective especially along the outer weed beds in the lower and middle reaches or along the cliffs in the upper reaches. The rainbows are smaller than those in Arapuni, but huge brown trout can still be expected.
The lower reaches of the Waipapa River, known as the Waipapa Lagoon, can only be reached by boat. This is productive fishing water often producing a high catch rate for anglers trolling or fly fishing from an anchored boat.
Shore-based fishing is restricted to the northern lakeshore, the mouth of the Waipapa River and a small section of the Maraetai Dam tailrace. All springs, rivers and streams entering Lake Waipapa are closed to fishing except for the Waikato and Waipapa rivers.
WAIPA RIVER SYSTEM:
The Waipa River is largely fished above Otorohanga where there is over 30km of superb fishing water. From Otorohanga, the river runs parallel to Otewa Road for some 16km to Toa Bridge, the upstream limit for winter fishing. Above Toa Bridge the river is mainly accessible by foot. Access to the upper reaches can also be obtained across private farmland from Owawenga Road.
The Puniu River is the largest tributary of the Waipa River, flowing through the Pureora Forest and joining the river at Pirongia. The river offers 20km of fishing water, mostly in the headwaters and middle reaches. Access to the river is from Bayley, Newman, and Duncan roads.
This very popular stream, southwest of Te Awamutu, is heavily fished by local anglers. Access is from the Wharepuhunga Road which runs parallel to the Mangatutu Stream for 5km. There is also at least 10km of good fly fishing water upstream from the Wharepuhunga Road Bridge.
The stream rises in the steep hill country to the west of Otorohanga and flows in a northerly direction to join the Waipa River just south of Pirongia. The upper reaches of the Moakurarua have a clear gravel bottom, mostly wadeable, offering good fishing waters. Access is gained off the Otorohanga/Honikiwi or Otorohanga/Kawhia roads. The lower reaches are deep, sluggish, and generally not favoured by anglers.
Rising on Mt Pirongia the Ngakoaohia Stream flows east to join the Waipa River. This small stream consists of pools and runs with a clear gravel bottom which lends itself well to nymph and dry fly fishing. Access is from the Pirongia/Kawhia Road.
The small shingle and boulder stream runs through bush and farm land down the northern slopes of Mt Pirongia. Access is off the Limeworks Loop Road. The stream is mainly fished with nymphs or dry flies during the summer.
In its upper reaches, the Mangaokewa is a very scenic stream flowing through an extensive area of native forest. These waters are best suited to spin fishing and hold good-sized rainbow and brown trout. Access is off the Mangaokewa Road and from the scenic Mangaokewa Reserve just south of Te Kuiti.
WAIHOU RIVER SYSTEM:
Most fishing is carried out in the upper reaches above Okoroire where the Waihou is very clear – classic dry fly waters. In this section of the Waihou trout numbers are very high; mainly small fish though reasonable numbers of large rainbow trout have been spotted in recent drift dive surveys. Access is obtained from the Hamilton/Rotorua highway, Whites Road (road between SH5 and SH1), and at Okoroire behind the hotel.
This upper tributary of the Waihou with about 20km of fishable water is a popular river with a high catch rate. Three tributaries of the Waiomou – the Omahine, Rapurapu, and the Kakahu streams offer good small stream fly fishing. Access is off the Rapurapu, Omahine, and Waiomou roads, reached from either the Hamilton/Tauranga or Hamilton/Rotorua highways.
The Ohinemuri River rises in the ranges behind Whangamata and flows west through the rugged Karangahake Gorge parallel to the Paeroa/Waihi highway. There is excellent fishing throughout the Ohinemuri, especially upstream of Waihi and through the Karangahake Gorge that offers a variety of fishing spots. It holds roughly equal numbers of rainbow and brown trout.
A boulder stream, it flows through forest and farmland catchments before joining the Ohinemuri River. It is highly valued by anglers for its scenic beauty and the solitude it provides. Access to the lower reaches is gained by crossing the Ohinemuri River at Karangahake township. Access to the middle and upper reaches is via the Waitawheta Road near Waikino on the Waihi/Paeroa highway, then either Dickey Flat, Dean or Franklin roads. From the Dickey Flat and Franklin roads there are DOC tracks along the river giving access to many kilometres of fishing water through scenic kauri forests.
The Waimakariri is a large spring-fed stream which flows north from the Kaimai Ranges to meet the Waihou River just south of the Okoroire Falls. This river is renowned for its high catch rate of smallish trout, but larger trout are present, especially in the upper reaches. It is probably one of the best dry fly streams in the region. Access is off the Tirau/Rotorua highway and Waimakariri Road.
WHANGANUI RIVER SYSTEM:
Between Taumarunui and Kakahi there are numerous good fishing pools. Access can be gained from Taumarunui, or via the villages of Mahoe (Mahoe Rd), Piriaka (from the power station), Manunui (Mahoe Rd), and Kakahi (Ako Street) and from the end of Te Rena Road by crossing the Whakapapa River and taking the short path across the Whakapapa Island.
Access to the upper reaches within the Tongariro National Park is via old logging roads from State Highway 47. A good topographical map or local knowledge is required.
Access to the lower reaches can be obtained from the end of Te Rena Road via the village of Kakahi. Access to the middle reaches can be obtained from Owhango, south of Taumarunui, where a good gravel road leads to a bridge across the river. Just before the bridge a short road on the right leads to a fence line with a path running along it which gives excellent access to the river.
Access to the upper reaches can be gained from SH 4 across private farmland (landowner permission is required), or from the access road to the Tongariro Power Scheme intake structure via SH 47 (National Park – Turangi).
This popular river offers many kilometres of fishing water, but is mainly fished in its upper reaches above the township of Waimiha. Access is from the Ongarue Stream Road across private farmland. Below Waimiha there is some excellent spin fishing water, with access from the Waimiha-Ongarue Road which runs parallel to the river.
A delightful stream, it offers a series of pools containing a good population of both rainbow and brown trout. The lower and middle reaches offer clear low banks providing relatively easy fishing. Access is from Waimiha Road across private farmland, permission is required from the farmhouse just north of the Waimiha-Ongarue Road turnoff. Access can also be obtained across farmland from Ongarue Stream Road. The upper reaches run parallel to State Highway 30 (Te Kuiti – Mangakino) east of Bennydale, with access across private farmland.
MAROKOPA RIVER SYSTEM:
The relatively remote west coast river is divided into two fisheries by the impressive Marokopa Falls. Below the falls there is about 3km of fishing, probably best suited to spin fishing. Above the falls there is about 10km of productive water and both rainbow and brown trout are present. Access is from Te Anga Road via Waitomo Caves Road.
The Tawarau River enters the Marokopa River just below the Marokopa Falls. This river is remote with foot access only to the upper and middle reaches. The scenery is very impressive as the river flows pass high limestone cliffs and dense forests. There is a good track alongside the river which leads to the Mangaohae Stream, and several suitable camping sites for a weekend trip. Access to the north end of the track is by Speedies Road via the Te Anga Road (Marokopa-Waitomo Caves).
A popular stream that flows past spectacular limestone bluffs and native forest, the stream provides the most impressive scenery to be found in the King Country. A DOC track follows the stream down to the Tawarau River. The south end of the track can be reached by taking the Oparure Road, 3km north of Te Kuiti, and then Ngapaenga and Were Roads.
This river flows westward along the Kauaeranga Valley before entering the sea at Thames. It offers over 20km of good fishing, wadeable over a shingle and boulder bottom. Access is off Kauaeranga Valley Road behind Thames.
Rainbow trout are found in all the rivers and streams that enter Whitianga Harbour. The Waiwawa is probably the best of these waters, a superb small trout river with over 10km of fishable water. Access is off the Coroglen-Tapu Road. The Mahakirau River is also popular with local anglers.
A tributary of the Mokau River, the Mangaotaki River holds both rainbows and browns. Spin fishing is the most popular method but the upper reaches also have good fly fishing waters. Access is off the Te Kuiti/New Plymouth highway or off the Upper Mangaotaki Road.
Entering the sea just south of Marokopa, the Awakino River is a picturesque river of rapids, boulders, and native bush. Access is excellent with SH3 running beside the lower reaches for 15km. Access to the middle reaches is via Gribbon Road, which runs parallel to the river for 8km. Access to the upper reaches is via walkways from Gribbon Road.