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Wainuiomata River

The Wainuiomata River is a productive brown trout fishery that is surprisingly close to Wellington. It holds a good population of fish and offers a very different fishing experience to other rivers in the area.


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Fish type Brown trout
Situation The Wainuiomata rises in the southern Rimutaka Ranges and flows south through the Wainuiomata township then over open farmland before entering Cook Straight near Baring Head.

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Access map with topography

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

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River flow and water temperature

View graphs at the Greater Wellington Regional Council website of recent Wainuiomata flow and water temperature at:
- Manuka Track (middle reaches)

- Leonard Wood Park (lower reaches)


View graphs at the Greater Wellington Regional Council website of recent rainfall at:
- Wainuiomata

F&G pamphlet Wellington / Horowhenua access pamphlet >>>

The Wainuiomata River is a productive if challenging river that flows across a mainly silt bed between high banks that provide little cover for anglers. It is generally open and exposed and so subject to the strong winds that can blow in the area.

In the upper reaches above Wainuiomata town the river is small though the water quality is good. Few fish are held in this section however and the best fishing is to be found in the middle section between the town and the beginning of the tidal section. This provides about 20 kms of good open fishing water. There can be good fishing in the tidal area between Oct and Dec as fish are often chasing whitebait in this area.

The river is unlike others in the area as it is generally quite slow flowing and has less definite structure with the result that trout will often be found cruising pools rather than taking up station. It also makes it more diffficult to approach them as the banks can be high with little background vegetation to mask your approach. And as the fish are generally cruising a beat thay are not always facing upstream. Consequently a very stealthy approach is vital for success. That said with a little caution and stealth it is possible to spot and target the good population or resident fish that generally seem to feed near the surface.

Fish numbers and size Brown trout in reasonable to good numbers averaging around 1kg
Access The river runs alongside a road for most of its length allowing access to most of the fishable water. It is however necessary to seek landowner's permission before crossing theirland to fishthe river.
Methods This is ideal water for dry fly and nymph. Fish tend to feed near the surface and so are generally easy to spot (though they can also easily spot any unwary angler that appears on the skyline).
Recommended tackle Rods of between 4 - 5 weight are ideal. As there can often be some wind in this are a fast action rod such as the CD XLS series is ideal to cut through the wind. Leaders need to be reasonable
Recommended lures

Nymphs: Lightly weighted or unweighted Hare and Copperstoneflies and mayfly patterns such as Pheasant Tail, Prince nymphs and caddis patterns.

Dry flies: Popular patterns include Royal Wulff, Adams, Blue Dun, Coch-y-Bondhu, beetle patterns (beetles work best during the early summer) and cicada and cricket patterns late in the summer.

Wet flies / Streamers: In the lower reaches use large wet flies such as a Grey Ghost, yellow Rabbits, Jack Spratt and other whitebait patterns during the day and dark patterns such as Craig's Night-time and Scotch Poacher during the evening and at night. When fish are seen feeding in other sections of the river use small wee-wets such as March Brown, Red Governor and Hardies Favourite and fish them just sub-surface and with a slow retrieve. This can be an effective way to ambush trout which are following a beat around a pool.

Spinners: Spinners are not legal in the section below the Wainuiomata Township bridge where the best fishing is to be found and not very useful above it.

Tributaries There are no tributaries of note.


Applicable to Wainuiomata River downstream from the main township bridge
Region Wellington region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Apr
Methods Fly fishing only
Bag limit 1
Size limit (cm) 550mm maximum (i.e. no fish over 550 mms may be taken from this water)



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