Wairarapa District

This province offers a unique experience, river trolling, popular in the lower reaches of the Ruamahanga River. Henley Lake is the best small lake fishery in the region for children. For all its quality, fishing pressure is generally light and you're unlikely to see another angler during a day’s fishing.

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Ruamahanga River:

This river rises in the Tararua Range and drains southward over 120kms past Masterton to enter the sea at Lake Ferry. Access to the river is quite good. The upper Ruamahanga within the Tararua Forest Park has walking access either at Mt Bruce, where SH2 crosses the Ruamahanga, or via the headwaters of the Mangatainoka River at Putara. The river here is classic wilderness fishing with a comparatively small number of large fish in gin clear water. It is best fished mid-summer when wading conditions are comfortable and trout are actively feeding. Downstream of the Tararua Forest Park fishing is patchy until close to Masterton. From Masterton to Martinborough, access is from a number of road ends or bridge crossings all leading off SH2 down to Martinborough. Downstream from Martinborough, access can be gained from either side of the river off either Kahutara Road or Martinborough Lake Ferry Road. The river is bigger here, with numerous big pools and large numbers of fish. Spinning and bait fishing are best early and late in the season. Winter fishing is good. Fly fishing is favoured during summer as temperatures rise and hatches of natural fly become prolific. Backwaters, favoured by cruising trout, are a test for anglers attempting to intercept these fish with small nymph patterns. Further downstream below the Tuhitarata Bridge, trolling is popular especially in the autumn when sea-run brown trout move into the river. Salmon are occasionally caught in this area. Some of the best perch fishing in our region is found here with fish of up to 2kg caught. Although primarily a brown trout fishery, increasing numbers of both perch and rainbow trout are being taken by anglers. Bait fishing comes into its own here.

Kopuaranga River:

This small river, with its origins in the hill country to the north of Masterton, is the only one of its kind in the Wairarapa. Access is across the Ruamahanga River off SH2 about 10km north of Masterton. There is no public access along this river – landowner permission is required. A small meandering stream frequently overhung by willows, the Kopuaranga, a fly fishing only stream, holds good numbers of fish and is a favourite of fly fishers. A good hatch of fly can be expected on most warm evenings. Early season anglers do well with a nymph but as summer continues, the brown beetle, caddis and   willow grub increasingly dominate the fish’s feeding. A careful approach and presentation is required.

Waipoua River:

This river originates in the eastern foothills of the Tararua Range and flows southward to join the Ruamahanga River at Masterton. The river parallels SH2 and access is possible off a number of roads off Paierau Road or SH2. An important spawning tributary of the Ruamahanga, this river holds a limited population of resident fish year round. The best fishing is usually early season before most of the post spawning fish have moved back into the Ruamahanga. Upstream of Masterton this small, fast flowing river is best fished with nymphs such as hare and copper.

Tauweru River:

This river has an extensive catchment to the east of Masterton and joins the Ruamahanga at Gladstone. Access to the lower reaches is off Gladstone Road, or Matinborough/Masterton roads or Te Kopi Road. Access to the middle reaches is from the Masterton/Stronvar roads or Castlepoint Road. The river is slow flowing and willow lined and best suited to anglers who like to stalk cruising fish. There's excellent fishing in the lower 3km of this river it and generally fishes best when willow grubs are  prevalent during the summer months.

Waiohine River:

This large tributary of the Ruamahunga River flows from the eastern side of the Tararua Range and can provide excellent wilderness fishing in the upper reaches for the fit angler. Access to the middle and lower reaches is off a number of roads that parallel the river upstream or downstream of SH2. Fishing is fair to good in these reaches, depending on the frequency and severity of flood flows. Fly fishing is the favoured method, but spinning and bait fishing are common and successful methods. Access to the Tararua Forest Park is by the Waiohine Gorge Road to Walls Whare and walking from there. Alternatively, a climb up and over Mt Holdsworth from Mt Holdsworth Road will get a very fit angler into the mid Waiohine Hut (please check trip time and weather before attempting this tramp). The fishing within the Forest Park is a very enjoyable experience in lovely surroundings. Heading upstream from Totara Flats is only   recommended for the very fit angler.

Waingawa River:

This medium-sized tributary of the Ruamahunga River flows from the eastern side of the Tararua Range. It can provide excellent wilderness fishing in the upper reaches for the fit angler. It is managed as a trophy fishery although fish are not numerous. Access is off Upper Plain Road to Upper Waingawa Road and then walking from the road end. It is very scenic within the Tararua Forest Park. Downstream of the park, much of the river is unstable and fish are scarce. Summer offers the best fishing when wading is easier because of lower river levels and warmer temperatures. Fish a large weighted nymph to sighted fish or try a large deer hair dry fly if cicadas are abundant. Fly fishing is the best method.

Tauherenikau River:

This medium-sized river flows from the eastern side of the Tararua Range and flows into Lake Wairarapa just north of Featherston. Access to the Forest Park is either from Underhill Road and Bucks Road (from Featherston or Greytown), or from the Upper Hutt side of the Rimutaka Range at Kaitoke, and walking three hours from the carpark off Marchant Rd. The upper reaches in the park provide good wilderness angling. Outside of this area the river is unstable and subject to low summer flows. The lower reaches, where the Tauherenikau enters Lake Wairarapa, are popular with brown trout or perch taken on spinners or worms.

Henley Lake:

A smallish, man-made lake, near the centre of Masterton, it is stocked annually with rainbow trout. Perch abound as well and the lake provides an ideal area for junior anglers to fish safely and for families to picnic while fishing together.

Kourarau Dam:

The dam is a water supply lake that has been a popular fishing location for many years. Access is at Gladstone immediately south of Masterton off the Masterton/Martinborough Road then off Tupurupuru Te Wharau Road. A great location for a family outing, the dam holds impressive rainbow trout and perch. It is managed as a “trophy” rainbow lake fishery – the only one of its kind in the Wellington region. Spin or bait fishing is best for perch (though summer weed growth will frustrate anglers using spinning gear), and fly fishing is best for the large rainbows.


Wellington Fishing Spots