Fishing Locations and Access
Northland Fish & Game Council's jurisdiction extends from a line north of Wellsford to Mangawhai Heads and continues right up through the region to Cape Reinga in the Far North.
New Zealand’s northernmost trout fishery is indeed a wonder of nature.
Temperate climates and warm water temperatures play havoc with sports fish generally suited to living in colder, more oxygenated water. Fish releases by the acclimatisation societies during the 60's and 70's paved the way for today’s progeny. The fish stocks of today are well adapted and found in good numbers throughout most of Northland. Early releases established a good base for today’s fishery.
Introductions involved two trout species, with rainbows more common. They appear to have a greater tolerance to the warmer conditions while browns tend to inhabit cooler wooded areas. Fish of good size can be found in most waterways when conditions are right.
Fishing in Northland:
Most fishing methods can be used with good success. The terrain encountered is varied and ranges from tree-lined clear bush rivers to kilometres of farmland fishing.
The famous Kai Iwi Lakes near Dargaville, and the man-made reservoirs in Whangarei and Kerikeri, provide other options for anglers. The Northland fishery caters for everyone’s taste, ability, and technique with plenty of accessible water. Landowners are usually obliging and access to angling spots is generally good, but please check with them for permission to enter their land. There are hundreds of kilometres of fishable waters throughout the region, so try some exploring; check current regulations and enjoy one of Northland's best kept secrets.
Anglers are asked to check their boats and gear to ensure that NO aquatic plants are brought into the waterways. Nuisance aquatic plants establish very easily in Northland, with the potential for an environmental disaster to occur.
Lakes and Reservoirs:
Northland Fish & Game has five bodies of water, which are stocked annually with some 4000 rainbow fingerlings. Of the five, two are reservoirs while the others are natural sand-based lakes. Re-stocking is needed as there is a lack of suitable spawning streams. The lakes have over the years provided anglers with a bounty of beautifully conditioned rainbow trout.
The reservoir fishing is challenging as water levels are manipulated and changed. Water levels dictate how and where anglers can fish. But Northland's lakes and reservoirs produce good fighting fish and are open all year round with bait, fly, and spin fishing catering for all fishers.
Anglers should check the local regulations in their Fish & Game sport fishing guide.
Rivers and Streams:
Northland has hundreds of kilometres of fishable streams and rivers. Most were originally stocked with rainbow or brown trout under the management of the acclimatisation societies. Today’s fisheries are a result of those dedicated people and their work.
These rivers and streams fisheries are perhaps not as spectacular as some South Island waters, but still provide some great fishing.
Rivers and streams can hold three kilo-plus fish, with the average around 1kg. The diversity of fishing opportunities and surrounding countryside is quite unique, as Northland doesn’t have large mountainous catchments. An angler can experience a variety of settings within a few short kilometres.
The fishing pressure is somewhat less than in waterways further south. A bit of exploring will generally produce results and some anglers may be pleasantly surprised over what they catch. But note that all rivers and streams are closed from May 1 to September 30, and all bait fishing is prohibited.
Kai Iwi Lakes:
The Kai Iwi Lakes are sand-based dune lakes sited some 35 kilometres north of Dargaville. The lakes (“kai” is Maori for food, and “iwi” is tribe) are famous in the north for their scenery. The area comes alive in summer as people arrive for their annual holidays.
Fishing remains popular through winter, and there are good numbers of fish all year round. During summer boating tactics are used, as the fish tend to inhabit the deeper margins of these lakes when water temperatures are warm.
The rainbow trout is the only sport fish available to anglers in these lakes. Excellent well-conditioned fish are taken every year, which average 1kg and can grow up to 4.5kg. The main types of tackle used are fast sinking lines with koura or bully imitation flies for shore-based anglers, and lead lines and jigs for boat fishers. The lakes are a fantastic place to take the whole family, a great destination well worth the effort. To view the access map and brochure click on Kai Iwi Lakes above.
Whau Valley Dam:
This man-made dam serves as Whangarei’s public water supply and varies in depth. Annually stocked with 300 rainbow fingerlings, it's the nearest fishing to Whangarei' s urban area. Angling is restricted to shore-based activity with a sinking line producing good results.
Rainbows are targeted but browns are also present from early releases and have managed to sustain themselves. Fish size and quality varies according to environmental conditions and available food. The rainbows tend to average 1kg in size while some large browns have been recorded but the crafty fish are hard to catch. The lake periphery can be fished when water levels are low enough, but it's generally only fished from the car park side of the reservoir. No boating is allowed.
Wilsons Dam is located off State Highway One, just north of Ruakaka on Prescott Road. This dam was created as a water supply reservoir for the Ruakaka area in the early 2000's.
Wilson's Dam is a 'put and take' fishery. There is some natural reproduction which occurs in a short section of the stream that feeds the dam, and in some years there's not enough to maintain a fishery. So Northland Fish & Game regularly stocks Wilson’s Dam to maintain a reasonable number of trout for anglers to catch. Rainbow trout are released into the fishery every other year, alternating with browns. The council agreed that a mixed fishery would give anglers greater opportunity to catch fish.
Anglers can access the lake through two access points off Prescott Road. Both these access points are well marked and require a moderate walk down to the reservoir. The dam wall can be accessed at the end of Sail Rock Road where there's a large parking lot at the base of the wall. Anglers are required to walk from there to the edge of the reservoir.
There is only shoreline fishing available to anglers as boats aren't allowed on the reservoir. Winter is the best time of year to fish Wilson’s Dam as water temperatures are cool and trout are readily feeding in the shallow water. Early spring and late autumn also provide good fishing opportunities during the early morning and late evening hours.
Anglers can use bait, spin or fly fishing techniques to catch trout in this fishery. Anglers who use spinning gear tend to do well with French-style spinners or hard body lures, however traditional lures also get results. Those who prefer fly fishing generally use streamers that imitate mosquito fish, bullies or dragonfly larvae around the weed beds. During the warm days in winter, anglers do well using midge imitations.
The lake is situated a few kilometres north of Waipapa. It has a man-made irrigation dam, which was constructed to serve the Kerikeri horticultural belt.
The lake has good numbers of rainbow trout, which are readily taken with wet flies and bait. Normal shore-based fishing techniques work well and non-motorised boat fishing is permitted. The lake edge vegetation impedes angling in many places but the fishing is good where there's access. The lake is set in a very picturesque valley catchment, a great place for the whole family.
To view the access map and brochure for the Whau Valley's Lake Manuwai Dam click on Lake Manuwai
The Waima River is 45km north of Dargaville along State Highway 12, then up Donnelly’s Road to Donnelley’s Crossing.
Fly fishing is the best method for Dargaville rivers, but recommended for the more experienced and active angler.
The Mangatu River flows into the Kaihu River approximately 5kms upstream of the motor camp along Oputeke Road. The conditions are similar to those of the Kaihu River.
The Kaihu River 30 Km north of Dargaville township on State Highway 12 flows in a southerly direction. The best way to fish the river is to head upstream from Kaihu township. The river tends to run clear most of the time and is very picturesque.
Kaikohe and Kerikeri Area:
The Punakitere River has a small population of rainbow trout in its upper reaches. This river can be reached by travelling west through the township of Kaikohe and then turning south down Mataraua Road. Head down Mataraua Road for about 8km’s until you come to the first main bridge. The more successful flies in this river are Parson’s Glory and rabbit flies.
The upper section of the Punakitere River can be accessed by turning south at Kaikohe onto the Mangakahia Road. Travel down this road for approximately 5km’s to the first main bridge. The stream has extensive and heavy cover along its banks that makes fly fishing very difficult. So spin fishing is the most productive and easiest method.
The Waitangi River flows eastward from Waimate North to Haruru Falls near Paihia. The river has a scattering of rainbows along its entire length. The best area to fish is around the Bay of Islands Holiday Park, (Lilypond) Puketona Road, and Paihia. The river can be accessed east of Puketona Junction off State Highway 10.
Waipapa River and Wiahoanga Stream
The Waipapa River flows through the Puketi Kauri Forest and has wild trout throughout its course. It can be accessed from State Highway one and Forest Road about 8km north of Okaihau.
These trout average approximately 0.5kg and can be caught on smelt flies like Parson’s Glory, a wide range of nymphs such as pheasant tail, halfback, and hare and copper. In the summer months’ imitations of cicada and green beetles work well.
The scenery in the area offers anglers a feeling of solitude and it's the nearest Northland has to a backcountry fishery.
The Waipapa stream flows from Lake Manuwai and out to the Kerikeri inlet. The most productive areas to fish are near the State Highway 10 road bridge and downstream towards the coast. Anglers need landowners' permission as most fishing is from private land.
The Kerikeri River flows from the high plateau next to the Puketi State Forest down towards Kerikeri inlet and the famous Stone Store. The fishing is best above State Highway 10 but there are also fish downstream from here. Rainbows of up to 1.5kg can be caught but most fishing is from private land so landowner permission's needed.
To view the access map and brochure click on Kerikeri River
The Tirohanga is a small stream that flows down from the western side of the Russell State Forest and meanders towards the township of Kawakawa. The upper reaches don’t hold fish due to its steep nature but they're encountered once the waterway levels out. Access to the fishing is through private property so again, landowner permission is required.
This stream is situated 10 km north of Whangarei along State Highway One. A bridge marks the stream which is sign-posted. Turn right over the bridge into Mower Road until you come to the railway crossing. You can walk up stream for about 3kms. This stream is suited to the more experienced angler. There is reasonable fishing if you go downstream from the State Highway 1 Bridge. Get landowner's permission either up or downstream.
The stream is accessed by heading 20km north of Whangarei along State Highway One and turning off onto the Whananaki Rd. About 6km along this road you will come to a bridge over the Kirikiritoki Stream. If you turn right along the Marua road the river winds alongside it for many kilometres, providing good access for anglers. This river has wooded banks and is probably more suited for experienced anglers. About 2km downstream from the Whananaki Road bridge, the Kaikanui stream joins the Kirikiritoki Stream and there's good fishing for several kilometres downstream. From the junction this river is known as the Kaikanui River.
The first bridge over the river is on the Old Russell Road just off State Highway One at Whakapara. About 22km from Whangarei is the lower end of the Kaikanui and the Kaimamaku. This is a very productive spot and well worth trying. Downstream from this point the river is known as the Whakapara River.
The river here winds alongside the Old Russell Road. It is a gravel-based river and in the summer the water becomes gin-clear. It is probably more suited to nymphing the pools. Fish don't appear to lie in the runs as the water temperature is too warm in summer. The river runs alongside the road until it heads up the hill towards Helena Bay. Just before the hill there's a road that turns off to the left, Peach Orchard Road. The river winds alongside the road for a short distance.
Located 22 km north of Whangarei along State Highway 1, there is good fishing upstream from the main road to the junction of the Kaimamaku/ Kaikanui streams. Downstream from the main road there's excellent fishing for several kilometres. About 5-6km downstream from the main road bridge this river joins the Waiotu River and becomes the Wairua River from that point on downstream.
This river is located 28km north of Whangarei along State Highway One. Just over the railway crossing at Waiotu there is a road and railway bridge, and there's good fishing up and downstream. If you go over the railway line and head back towards Whangarei, the first bridge you come to is the Puhipuhi Stream. Do not go upstream, as the bed of the stream is full of logs. Head downstream and on the left bank and you'll come to the junction of this stream with the Waiotu. If you keep going downstream for about four kilometres you'll come to the junction of the Whakapara/Waiotu rivers. It's well worth trying here in the evening. If you keep heading North on State Highway 1 you will come to Hukerenui Hotel; turn right 50 metres past the hotel.
This small river joins the Waiotu half a kilometre downstream on the left hand bank. This junction is a good place at night and is reached along the Waiotu river banks by way of a marginal strip. Fish in this waterway are generally browns with rainbows in the lower 400 metres before the Waiotu. Access to upper areas is via private land so permission is needed.
The Wairua River runs from the junction of the Waiotu/Whakapara rivers north of Whangarei to Titoki some 26km west of Whangarei. Access to this river can be gained from many roads. There is good fishing, especially in the evenings when casting to the evening rise. On State Highway One about 250 metres past the road to Hikurangi, turn left down Jordan Valley Road, and go past Apotu Road, and Rushbrook Road, and you'll come to a bridge that crosses the Wairua River. It is not necessary to gain permission in this area, as there's a marginal strip.
Another place to try is back along Rushbrook Road. Turn right at the intersection, and at the bottom of the hill there's a bridge that crosses the Wairua River and good fishing upstream and downstream. Farmer permission is required for access.
On State Highway One about 0.5km past the Kamo Shopping Centre, turn left onto Ruatangata Road. About 20km along this road you'll come to a bridge crossing the Wairua River where there's good fishing both up and downstream. Drive over this bridge and take the first road on the left, (Puketitoi Road). By following this road you will eventually end up at Titoki. Go past Rapids Road on your left and park your vehicle near the next road on the right which leads to a farmer’s cowshed. Walk across the paddock on the left and just along from the pump shed there's a waterfall. There is good fishing upstream from this point. Downstream from the waterfall for the next 2-3kms there are some good fish in pools and runs.
If you take State Highway 14 to Dargaville, 12km from Whangarei is a turn off called Maungatapere/Kaikohe Road. About 12km along this road it crosses the Wairua River. 300 metres across the bridge is the road to the Wairua Falls. There is good fishing below the falls in normal flow conditions. Just before you cross the bridge over the Wairua River there is a cross road. Drive along Kokopu Rd and take the first road on your left, Malone Road, and go to the end of it. There you'll find a bridge crossing the Wairua River. Excellent spinning and fly fishing can be had there.
From the Wairua River bridge keep driving towards Kaikohe and after about 3-4 km, you'll come to a bridge crossing the Mangakahia River. All tributaries into the Mangakahia have had trout released into them, but the fish don't seem to hold in this system. The fish spotted in this river and its tributaries are usually mullet and many a trout angler has been fooled believing they're casting to a trout.
To view the access map and brochure click on Wairua River