Fishing Locations and Access
The Hawke’s Bay offers a huge range of angling opportunities, with some of the best and easiest access in the country.
The region’s rivers provide some spectacular headwater fishing, as well as year round lowland angling.
Lake Tutira is the major lake fishery in the region and stocked with fish sourced from Lake Tarawera. These fish grow quickly during the summer and provide excellent sport to both shore-based and rowboat-trolling anglers.
The largest river systems in the region are the Mohaka, Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro, Waipawa and Tukituki, and both brown and rainbow trout are prevalent throughout the region. There are angler access brochures on all the rivers to help anglers (see below).
Dry fly fishing on the Tukituki, along with its many tributaries, is popular during the heat of the summer months as fish feed on the surface. The Ngaruroro and Mohaka rivers offer headwater wilderness fishing that is nationally rated and provides anglers the chance to catch trophy-sized fish in clear waters. The middle and lower reaches of the region’s rivers are easily accessible from a variety of public roads and provide anglers with vast amounts of fishable water.
Anglers are urged to stay clear of any monitoring buoys on the lake to avoid snagging anchor lines and causing damage to their monitoring capabilities. This picturesque lake of around 178ha has very easy access, is pleasant to fish, and is generally quite productive. The lake is stocked with top quality fish from Lake Tarawera in Rotorua, that grow quickly during the summer and provide excellent sport. The lake contains a number of tagged fish, and to enter the draw for a free licence contact Fish & Game or use the form below to send in details of your catch. This information helps us manage the fishery.
Please download and complete this form and send it to Hawke's Bay Fish & Game, PO Box 7345, Taradale, Napier.
State Highway 2 runs alongside the western side of the lake which is located about 40 minutes north of Napier. There is an access track at the northern end of the lake and a causeway at the southern end between Tutira and Waikopiro which both provide parking and great shore-based fishing. The lake can also be readily accessed along the western shoreline from a number of signposted points off the highway.
When trolling the lake from a rowboat or kayak, spinners such as toby’s and Z spinners in copper, silver or yellow and green finishes all work well. When fly fishing, flies such as Hamill’s killer, red setter, Mrs Simpson and Parson’s Glory are effective along with nymph patterns such as pheasant tail, hare and copper and glo bugs.
Aside from the fishing, the lake offers a great spot for a picnic, family day out or casual cruise on the lake, although motorised boats are prohibited to ensure against any spread of the noxious aquatic weed Hydrilla.
Tutira Monitoring Buoy
As part of the eradication plan of Hydrilla from Lake Tutira, organisations including the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and NIWA, have placed a monitoring buoy in the lake to monitor any changes in the lake over time.
The buoy is moored above one of the deeper holes (42m) for a long term study of the lake. It measures dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, water temperature and turbidity. The data is automatically updated to this website and you can check it here.
The headwaters are found in the Kaweka and Kaimanawa ranges. From there, it flows about 124km to the Pacific Ocean near the town of Mohaka.
As the river flows from mountain to sea, it provides a variety of angling opportunities. You could start at the Mohaka township and fish the river mouth, where sea-run trout can be caught feeding on whitebait in November. From there, you could drive to fish any access point from State Highway 2 to 5 and experience the challenge of fishing deep pools and powerful currents. Finally you could hike into remote upper reaches that are renowned for trophy-sized fish.
It is these upper reaches along with the challenging middle sections of the Mohaka that has given it such a big name here in New Zealand and even across the globe. It draws anglers from all over as they try their luck for a Mohaka trophy. Many guides operate on the Mohaka providing anglers with an experienced hand at catching a fish. Some guides and adventure operators also offer the chance to access fishing spots that no other can through the use of inflatable rafts and even helicopter. These methods enable anglers access to areas of the river that otherwise would be difficult and sometimes impossible to reach, giving anglers that increased opportunity at a trophy sized fish.
Like most rivers all fishing methods can be used to a certain level of success on the Mohaka. It is choosing when and where to use each method that will produce that higher success rate. For instance, wetlining is ideal for fishing the areas around the river mouth, using flies that replicate smelt and whitebait, this being especially successful during the whitebait season in November. Spinning is great for young kids or beginners who aren’t capable of fly fishing, it is also very productive for fishing vast wide areas of river and areas that are in high flow, as spinning enables the angler to cover a large area of water in one pass. Dry fly fishing is ideal during the summer months when the temperatures are warm and trout are feeding heavily on the surface as hatches such as caddis occur. The pick of all methods however, for most rivers and this being the same for the Mohaka, is nymphing. Nymphing is very rewarding as an angler can fish both deep and shallow runs successfully, it is also a very accurate way to fish as an experienced angler can know where his nymphs are the entire time, this being especially important when sight fishing. So by knowing when and where to use each of these methods, your success as an angler should increase.
The Ngaruroro River and its major tributaries flow down from the Kaimanawa, Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges into the sea midway between Napier and Hastings. This large river system provides over 100kms of fishable water, ranging from the deep single channeled section near the mouth, up through the vast open braided middle reaches right into the depths of nature, where the water is clear, fish are big and people are few and far between.
The pristine backcountry fishing is a major attraction of this river and good access through Crown land ensures its availability to the eager angler. Access can be obtained via walking tracks, through the crown land to these remote areas but rotary and fixed winged aircraft can also be used.
The middle and lower reaches can be quite braided and with a gravel bed are wadable, however the normal river flow is such that it often makes crossing difficult and sometimes dangerous. There are other means of access to sections of this river. These include rafting and jet boating. Road end access for vehicles is good throughout the river providing plentiful opportunity to experience all aspects of fishing the Ngaruroro.
All methods from spinning to nymph fishing are successful on this river but with big depths and strong currents throughout much of the river, nymphing with heavy traces is generally the most productive.
The dry fly fishing on the Tukituki is a major attraction during the heat of summer, as many hatches such as caddis bring on strong rises, especially early morning and late evening. Many of the spring creeks feeding the river also give great dry fly opportunities through most of the summer. Upstream of state highway 50 is closed during the winter season but can provide some excellent angling during the summer months. The river is generally quite small with crystal clear water in these upper reaches and can provide some challenging fishing in the small pools. Fish can be found right into the Ruahine Ranges, so some wilderness fishing can be experienced in the upper reaches of this river. The most popular methods for the Tukituki are dry fly and nymph fishing, however wet line is just as successful, especially during winter and when river levels are high. Spinning is also very productive and is a great way to get the kids or beginner angler involved.
The Tutaekuri like most of the regions rivers, predominately holds more rainbow trout than brown trout, however spring is a great time to target the big brownies around the river mouth, as they will be feeding on whitebait around this time. From the river mouth upstream to the expressway bridge, the river is single channeled and deep making for good wetline fishing. The river upstream from the bridge is braided and often changes course, making it sometimes difficult to know where to fish, creating challenging but rewarding angling. From Dartmoor to above the Managtutu confluence the river is less braided, as it is confined between high terraces creating more pools and shallow runs, making spot fishing a lot easier. The upper reaches can be quite demanding as the river navigates between steep ranges and around large boulders, but the rewards to be found for the adventurous angler are great. Fishing ends on this river above the Lawrence Hut with waterfalls being the end for both fish and angler.
The Waipawa River is very similar to the Tukituki river system, as it is a significant tributary to it. The Waipawa River is often lower during the summer months and the upper Waipawa especially, as it can be dewatered during the dryer months as it crosses the Ruataniwha Plains. This water however, is forced to the surface again as it hits the hard limestone of the Raukawa Range. This is why such streams as the Mangaonuku and Cochranes Creek are always flowing year round. So if you are heading above the Raukawa Range for a fish and its too low, try a spot below it and it will almost be guaranteed that the river will be much higher.
Datawatch (tagged trout)
This tagging programme has been running for nearly 20 years on some lakes and provides Fish & Game with an excellent method for monitoring fish growth each year.
Most of the Rotorua Lakes and Lake Tutira contain Datawatch tagged trout. Between 500 and 1000 of our annual releases into most lakes are tagged with a small plastic tag, and when anglers catch these fish they return the tag along with fish details so we can monitor trout growth during the season. Returning this information is rewarded with a letter showing how the fish you caught was growing compared to others of the same tag, and you also go into the draw for a free trout fishing licence.
From the 2004-05 season we moved to longer tags and this seems to have increased the return rate as anglers are seeing the tags more easily. The tagging programme supplies vital information for the management of these lakes so please make the effort and help us manage your fisheries! Trout are tagged just before liberation and fish are released at about 18cm.
All anglers who return tags with the date the fish was caught, fish length and tag numbers go into the draw for one of 20 free whole season licences each year.
The more tags you send in, the more chances you have. Send tag details to Fish & Game NZ, Private Bag 3010 Rotorua, on our tagged trout form or phone 07 357 5501 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org