HomeAuckland – WaikatoAuckland-Waikato: Where to fish

Where to fish in Auckland - Waikato


One of the most under-fished areas in the country is surprisingly that closest to the main population centres of Auckland and Hamilton. In this region there is a wonderful diversity of fishing available from large deep mysterious lakes through to small pristine spring fed creeks.

The Auckland Waikato region although a large is dominated by four major river systems. These are
• the Waikato river with its series of man made lakes
• the Waipa river
• the Whanganui river and
• the Waihou river.

Each of these rivers has a number of tributaries many of which are important fisheries in their own right. There are also a number of smaller river systems ensuring the angler is spoilt for choice with thousands of kilometres of fishing water. As well many waters are open all year.

With the absence of any large mountain ranges and its temperate climate, most rivers in the region are rain fed. Consequently they can discolour after heavy rain. There are a good number of spring fed rivers and streams throughout the region however that generally stay clear ensuring there is good fishing available throughout the season. And for the still water enthusiast, it would be hard to beat the man-made Waikato Hydro lakes or the number of small lakes close to Auckland city.

What is special about this region

While principally a rainbow trout fishery, the Auckland Waikato region provides fishing for all levels of skill and all methods of fishing. The fish numbers can be very high (for instance, some of the spring creeks in the central Waikato region are known to have over 900 fish per kilometre). Added to this is the ease of access for anglers. Most rivers can be easily accessed by car and walking along the river banks is generally easy. And although this is the most populated area of New Zealand, it is also easy to find remote back country and wilderness fishing for the more adventurous.

No matter what type of fishing you favour, there are places where you can practise your preferred method in this region. From trolling or harling a lure on a lake through to drifting a small nymph through crystal clear spring fed water or casting a dry fly to rising fish on a remote back country stream, there find plenty of opportunity to pursue their sport.

Many people regard the Waimiha Stream as one of the top dry fly fishing waters in the North Island while the large and pristine Whakapapa River is one of the countries finest trout fisheries where large fish can be targeted.

All the rivers selected for the 28th Fips-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships in 2008 were in the Auckland/Waikato region. They were the Whanganui River, Waihou River, Waimakariri Stream and the Ohinemuri River.

Underfished waters

Many rivers are underfished in the region despite having excellent stocks of fish around the 1 – 2lb mark with some larger fish also present. Anglers can expect to catch between 10 and 20 fish per day with a bag of over 30 fish in a day not being unknown in these waters.

Fishing close to Auckland

Lake Pupuke is situated within the city in Takapuna on the North Shore.

Trout waters that are within a short drive of Auckland city include:
- the Wairoa River
- Parkinsons Lake
- Lake Whatihua (Thomsons)
- Mangatangi Reservoir
- Mangatawhiri Reservoir

- Ohinmuri River

- Waitewheta River

All of the above waters can be easily accessed from Auckland. Several are great learning waters for young anglers while the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta offer a challenge for the more experienced anglers.

Fishing in the Coromandel Peninsula

While the fish numbers in the rivers of the Coromandel Peninsula are neither high nor the fish large, the quality of the surroundings, bird life and (despite being close to Auckland), the solitude you can get makes up for this.

The main rivers are the Kauaeranga, the Tairua and the Waiwawa though most rivers of any size have fish. The Tairua /a> has the best stocks and the best size fish though the Kauaeranga is also very good. Any small river that enters the sea at Whitianga, such as the Waiwawa, has fish (the fish get washed out to sea during floods and when they return can pop up the wrong river) but many of these are smaller waters with surrounding vegetation and can be challenging to fish as access can be limited.

Most of these rivers are open all year (see the Auckland/Waikato regulations for details) and tend to fish better in the cooler months and less well as the rivers warm up during summer and early autumn. They are all good dry fly waters and are best fished with very light tackle. They can be spotted and fished to after a dry spell when the water is clear. Cloudy days and the evenings are usually best.

The Auckland- Waikato fishing year

Spring (October to December)

The trout fishing season in this region opens on October 1st and from the beginning of the season through to mid December the fish feed well and aggressively. October can be rather cold but through November and early December is possibly the prime time in this region. As the weather warms the fish in the smaller streams and rivers rise freely. Many of the rivers and streams tend to have a slight amount of discolouring through this time and so when fish are not rising, it is best to fish blind using other methods such as a nymph or wet fly (or a small spinner).

Summer (mid December through to the end of February)

The summer months are the warmest and driest times which can mean the river flows are much lower and the water clearer. During these months it is sometimes difficult to fish on hot bright sunny days as the fish move under vegetation or into the pools and can become sluggish. They will also move into the faster water that is more oxygenated and can be tempted by large cicada and cricket imitations. During the late afternoon / evening period the fish often become very active and feed voraciously. Pools that a few hours ago appeared devoid of piscatorial life suddenly erupt into a feeding frenzy as the fish gorge on the insects that appear in the long twilight period.

Autumn (March through April and even May where the regulations allow fishing)

Autumn sees the beginning of the cooler weather with the fish often feeding throughout the day trying to put on weight before the winter months (when the larger fish begin to spawn). The weather can be very settled at this time of the year. Towards the end of this season the fish begin to move into spawning habits and it is not unusual to see fish chasing each other around a pool. During these times they can appear to be disinterested in feeding
and more in staking out their territory and pairing up.

Winter (June to September)

In the winter months most rivers and streams, particularly in the headwaters, are closed allowing the fish to spawn undisturbed. There can still be very good fishing in the Waikato River hydro lakes and the smaller lakes around Auckland. Also, many larger rivers allow fishing in the lower reaches over the winter months. This is the wettest time of the year however and so rivers, especially in the higher flowing lower reaches can have a lot of discolouration from the run-off.

Coarse fishing

The Waikato offers a number of good coarse fisheries. See coarse fishing in New Zealand.