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Retaruke River Trout Fishing

The Retaruke River is a small back country river that provides many kilometres of fishing for a good population of both rainbow and brown trout in the upper reaches. The lower reaches tend to be often discoloured from the silt washed down from the high cliffs but still give good spin fishing.


View Retaruke access map

View Retaruke topo map

View maps
Fish type, number and size Brown and rainbow trout averaging around 1 to 2 kg with some larger fish also present.
Situation The Retaruke and its major tributary the Kaitieke Stream rise in the Central Plateau and flow westwards to join the Whanganui River in the remote Whanganui National Park.

Access map
Access map with topography

LINZ topographic maps: 1:50,000 (260 series)

F&G pamphlet

Ruapehu Sports Fishing Information pamphlet

Check conditions

River flow, level and rainfall

View graphs at the Horizons Regional Council website.

Weather forecast

View the MetService weather forecast for Taumarunui


Above the confluence with the Kaitieke Stream

The stretch of the Retaruke River above the confluence with the Kaitieke Stream provides superb dry fly and nymph fishing in a remote back country setting where there are few obstructions to impede casting. Wading is easy and safe. There is excellent fishing for a good population of both rainbow and brown trout.

During the day, a weighted nymph fished upstream or a small wet fly presented down and across will take fish. Dry fly fishing is effective during the evening rise on warm summer evenings when the trout are gorging on sedges.

The river in the upper reaches runs through open grassland, scrub and sections of bush over a gravel and rock bed. The water is generally tannin stained though fish can still be spotted during bright sunny conditions.

Below the confluence with the Kaitieke Stream

Below the confluence with the Kaitieke Stream there is 20 km of water that is better suited to spinner fishing. The use of weighted nymphs in dark colours can also produce fish. The river here flows through a gorge and the banks can be quite slippery due to the papa (mudstone) which makes up much of the base. It does hold good fish and one way to access it is by kayak of which there are a number of operators around that will supply one for you.

There is some good water just upstream of the Whanganui confluence though getting down to the river is very difficult for much of the lower and middle sections.


From State Highway 4 travel take the sealed Whakahora-Kaitieke Road, which turns off SH4 just south of Owhango, or if travelling from the south take the unsealed road further south of SH4 at the small settlement of Raurimu. Both these roads lead to the Oio road that takes you alongside the river all the way to the confluence with the Whanganui. Much of it is unsealed.

The best water for angling is accessed by turning of the Oio at the monument and taking the singposted Upper Retaruke Road.

Recommended tackle

When fishing the upper reaches an 8-foot 6 to 9 foot rod with a weight 4 - 6 line is ideal. As the water generally holds some colour leaders do not need to be especially long with 9 to 10 feet being usually sufficient.
Recommended lures

Dry fly: In the upper reaches a number of flies work well at different times of the year. In the early season try larger Parachute Adams, Royal Wulff or Kakahi Queen. Around mid-November beetle imitations work well and during the height of summer try Black Gnat, cicada or blow fly patterns. In the warmer evenings there can be good rises to caddis fly so Elk Hair and Goddard's Caddis are effective. Also try Twilight Beauty.

Nymphs: Caddis nymphs, especially horned caddis work well throughout the season. Otherwise try Pheasant Tail in sizes 12 to 16. In the deeper water some weight may be needed to ensure that the nymphs get down through the water to where the fish are feeding.

Wetflies: March Brown and Purple March Brown. In the deeper water below the confluence try bully patterns such as a Mrs Simpson or Hamill's Killer, or a small black Hairy Dog.

Spinners: Black and gold Tobys, Rapalas and Veltics will work well particularly below the confluence.

Tributaries The major tributary of the Retaruke, the Kaitieke Stream, is an important fishery in its own right especially early and late in the season when fish are present for spawning.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Retaruke River upstream from Oio Road Bridge
Region Taranaki region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Trout: Nil (no trout can be killed and kept on the Retaruke River)
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Retaruke River downstream from Oio Road Bridge
Region Taranaki region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Trout: Nil (no trout can be killed and kept on the Retaruke River)
Size limit (cm) None


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