Second only in flow to the mighty Clutha River to the south, the Waitaki is widely recognised for its annual salmon run and its big water trout fishing.
The Waitaki Dam which was officially opened in 1934 dissects the lower Waitaki fishery from the high country. The Waitaki was once famous for its salmon run and spectacular trout fishery. In modern times the Lower Waitaki River along with its most notable tributaries the Hakataramea and Maerewhenua Rivers provides a modest annual salmon run and a challenging and productive trout fishery.
Access to the river mouth may be gained from either the north or south sides. From Glenavy SH1, Fisheries Road leads to Waitaki Huts carpark overlooking the river mouth. To reach the beach is either a long walk round the lagoon or a short trip across it by dinghy. Two walking tracks in the final kilometre before the Huts leads to good fishing from rock groyne remnants. On the south side, and about 1.5km south from Waitaki Bridge, Kaik Road leads to the Kaik Mouth Motor Camp and carpark at the coast; a short walk along the beach to fishable water.
North Bank – Waitaki Bridge/Glenavy to Waitaki Dam
Access is available at the SH1 Bridge and just upstream at Te Maiharoa Road. Travelling west along the north bank to Kurow via the Glenavy-Tawai Road the river is accessible from Henstridges Road (3km from Glenavy) and Ferry Road (5.5km). Following along Old Ferry Road and then after about 1km, along the Tawai-Ikawai Road, the river may be accessed at Ross Road, commonly referred to as Bells Pond, some 10kms from Glenavy. From Ross Road Junction it is 7.2km to SH82. A further 6.8km along SH82 brings you to the Stonewall where the road meets the river. The road is narrow along this section; park at the east end and access the river at the irrigation intake.
A further 5.5km along is an access point marked only by a farm gate and a short drive through a paddock to the river side willows. This is 4X4 access only as a small spring must be forded. Continue on to just before the Hakataramea River Bridge (1.2km), an unmarked gate gives foot access here through private land to the river along the top of a 600m long stop bank. Alternatively the Waitaki River can be reached by walking 700m down the Hakataramea River to the mouth. Drive through the Hakataramea township to continue along Old Slip Road where after two gates the road ends at the river’s edge. Twin Bridges, joining Hakataramea and Kurow townships provides angler access upstream and downstream on ‘Kurow Island’.
South Bank Access – Waitaki Dam to Waitaki Bridge/Glenavy
Upstream from Kurow the best access is at the Awakino River, 4km from Kurow; a short walk to the river. Proceeding downstream from Kurow along SH83, the river may be accessed at Otiake River (west side, 8km from Kurow), Otekaike River (east side, 12.5km), Priests Road (16km), Duntroon (west side of Maerewhenua River, 22km), and at Black Point (31km) where an unmarked road leads to a large settling pond for the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Scheme.
Between Black Point and Waitaki Bridge Huts there are 4 roads leading to the river; Goulding, Wilson, Jardine, and Ferry. Depending on flow, a short walk may be required from safe parking to the river.
The Waitaki River is a popular jet boating river. Launching by conventional vehicle is limited to SH1 bridge (south side), a marked track adjacent to the Kaik Motor Camp, Ferry Road, Duntroon (northern side of the Maerewhenua River) and at the Twin Bridges, Kurow on the island between the northern and southern braids.