HomeAuckland – WaikatoAuckland-Waikato: Where to fishLake Arapuni

Lake Arapuni

Lake Arapuni is a deservedly popular fishery, especially for those wishing to fish from a boat for a good population of above-average sized rainbow and brown trout.
Fish type

Both rainbow and brown trout are present and, as there are limited spawning opportunities, each year around 2000 rainbow trout and 500 brown trout are released into Lake Arapuni by Fish and Game. Consequently, fish numbers are good with an average around 2.5 kg, with many going much larger. The average length of rainbow trout is around 50cm.

Situation Lake Arapuni is one of the Waikato River hydro lakes and lies west of Putaruru.

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast.

Lake Arapuni is a long narrow lake and like others in the Waikato hydro system has a problem with weed infestation during the warm summer months, especially around the shoreline. There is very limited shoreline access for the angler and so most fishing requires using a boat. Consequently, trolling and harling are the most preferred methods but those who are willing to either drift or moor a boat and cast a fly or spinner around the weed beds can do very well.

Over the past years, as the quality of the stocked fish has increased, Lake Arapuni has become one of the better waters within the Waikato district consistently producing trophy fish. It is well served by boat ramps. The most consistent fishing is to be found at the head of the Lake where the water flows from the Waipapa dam. The water here can fluctuate as the water is released for electric power production and so it is very important to stay within the clearly marked channels when fishing.

Fish releases Every year Fish and Game releases several thousand small fish (fingerlings) of around 14cm into the lake as there is little on the way of spawning streams entering
the lake to maintain the stock levels. The number of fish released has been experimented with over the years with between 2,000 to 4,000 fish released annually.

Much of the farm land bordering the Arapuni power station is owned by Mighty River Power (MRP) and leased to farmers. In 2008 MRP agreed that anglers could have access to the land downstream of the Arapuni Bridge on the true left bank without requiring prior permission. Access to the headrace, spillway and tail race can be gained by a walking track that starts from Arapuni Village. Walk across the swing bridge to the road on the other side of the river, across the road is a stairway that leads to the track that provides access to lots of good fishing water with the prime spot being the junction of the spillway and tail race.

The spillway flows through the lower reaches of the Waitete Stream, and is open to fishing all year as it is considered to be part of the Waikato River.

Boat ramps

There are a number of boat ramps on both sides of the lake. See the Lake Arapuni access map.

Methods Trolling and harling are the preferred methods to fish this lake although in the summer when the fish are deeper it is necessary to use some weight, either through lead core line or adding weight just above the lures to ensure you get down to the fish. Casting a fly spinner from the drifting or stationary boat is also very effective when conditions permit.

Fishing below the Waipapa Dam

The traditional technique to fish for trout below the Waipapa Dam is to use a spinning rod and small ball sinker above a swivel with a short leader and either a worm or a wet fly (such as a silver rabbit) Cast the worm / wet fly upstream and then allow it to bounce back along the bottom. As there are a lot of snags on the bottom, some anglers try and fish mid-water to try and avoid losing too much gear.

Usually only a couple of turbines are working, so one side of the river will have some comparatively still water and that is often where the fish are to be found. When all the turbines are working at full capacity it becomes unfishable. However occasionally the turbines are turned off late at night and then the fishing can be superb.

Fly fishing with a large wet fly along the margins can also be productive, especially in the evening or early morning.

Recommended tackle When trolling especially during the warmer months when the trout tend to be deeper, use a lead core line with between three to five colours out depending on the conditions. Alternatively, use a down-rigger. If that is not possible secure a small 3 to 4 ounce ball sinker above a swivel about a metre above the lures.
Recommended lures

Nymphs which imitate caddis or emerging caddis can be very effective especially during the summer months. Otherwise use an all-round fly. Try weighted Pheasants Tail or Hare and Copper or Green Caddis larvae when fishing along the weed beds.

Dry flies:
During the summer, especially in the section below the Waipapa dam, there can be a very good caddis fly hatch. Using caddis patterns particularly in green patterns during the evenings can be very effective at this time. Also use cicada patterns when these large insects can be heard chirruping away in the trees.

Wet flies / Streamers:
Any fly that imitates a small bully or fish such as a Hamill's Killer, Mrs Simpson or rabbit (particularly yellow or green) patterns, is effective during the day. During the evenings use darker patterns and when fishing at night try Fuzzy Wuzzy, Black Marabou patterns and flies such as the Scotch Poacher or Craig's Night-time.


Tokoroa Chickens work well throughout the year; otherwise try Black and Gold Toby's or dark coloured Cobras or Tasmanian Devils.

Tributaries There are no major tributaries on Lake Arapuni but there is good fishing, especially in the warmer months, around any of the small stream mouths where they enter the lake.
Applicable to Lake Arapuni
Region Auckland/Waikato regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait

When fishing Lake Arapuni no  fish taken from any water other than Lake Arapuni can be used. Coloured dough and corn may be used.

Bag limit 5  trout (Rudd no limit)
Size limit (cm) 30cm minimum

Other fishing waters of the region


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