Despite its relatively easy access, the Awakino offers an almost wilderness experience in the headwaters above Mahoenui Bridge. In these upper reaches the river flows
over farmland on the left bank, with native bush to the water's edge on the right bank. The river in this section flows over shingle and rock and is a series of easy rapids and long gliding pools. It provides the angler with easy wading along most of its length though there are some very deep pools in places.
Expect to share your fishing experience with a variety of native birds and the occasional goat that will come down through the bush to the water's edge to drink.
Note: At the end of Gribbons Road the river flows over farmland before it enters bushland. Although there is a DoC track up to the hut at Leitches landing it is asked that you phone the farmers Chris and Jan Barker on 07 877 8746 to enquire bout local conditions and ask for permission before rossing the farm land. (There is no cellphone coverage up this valley so phone before arriving). Please ask the Barkers for permission to camp on their farm. They do not charge a fee for this, but would appreciate a donation for a charity ORA: Hope for Every Child. There is a very basic campsite about 1km from the end of the road at Bill Burnell landing.
The upper reaches of the Awakino are highly regarded and are restricted to fly fishing. The river is easily
wadeable and is ideal dry fly and nymph water. Those wishing to float a dry fly over likely water can also do very well especially in the evening when there can be a spectacular evening rise. Generally the water is quite clear, allowing fishermen to spot fish in the water. Much of the water flows between tree lined banks however and the shadow cast does restrict the spotting opportunities somewhat. Consequently
most anglers fish this section blind.
Fish numbers and size
Although trout numbers are low the fish can be large, making for an exciting fishing experience.
Above the Mahoenui Bridge, Gribbon Road runs alongside the river on the true right bank for several kilometres and then a DOC walking track follows the river to its headwaters. To reach the track you need to pass through private property, so please contact the landowner (at the end of Gibbon's Road) for permission.
There are several good camping sites and at Leitches Clearing at the end of the track, there is a well-maintained hut.
See the Awakino River access map.