HomeAuckland – WaikatoAuckland-Waikato: Where to fishLake Karapiro

Lake Karapiro

Lake Karapiro has developed into one of the top fishing waters in the Waikato district, offering anglers excellent fishing for large brown and rainbow trout throughout its length.
Fish type Both brown and rainbow trout are present but because there are limited spawning opportunities for the trout, a large proportion of those fish caught are stocked fish. Each year around 2000 rainbow trout and 500 brown trout are released into the lake by Fish and Game. Over the years, the average size of these fish has risen dramatically and now each year many fish over the magical 10 pound (4.5 kg) are caught.
Situation Lake Karapiro lies downstream of Lake Arapuni and is the last of the Hydro lakes on the Waikato system. It is a long narrow L-shaped lake, with roads following the northern and eastern shoreline. The lake is the venue for a variety of water activities and is most famous as a rowing venue. Consequently anglers may find themselves competing with other water sports.

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast.

While there are fish throughout this lake, the best fishing is to be found at the head of the lake where the water leaves Arapuni Dam. In this section there is a good current that can support a large concentration of fish. In other sections of the lake, trolling and harling are the preferred methods although any angler wishing to fish from a moored or drifting boat and casting a fly or spinner around the weed beds can do very well. Like all Waikato Hydro lakes however, weed growth particularly in the warmer months can be a problem. During the summer trout feed voraciously on the hatching caddis fly, especially around the stream mouths.

The most popular place to fish is the faster water where the river leaves the dam at Arapuni. The current can be very fast and consequently the fish tend to be near the bottom, requiring fast sinking lines. Care must be taken when fishing here however as the water levels can rise dramatically and very quickly during times of electricity generation when large volumes of water suddenly flow through the power station.


State Highway 1 follows the northern shore of the lake and a side road follows the eastern shoreline. There are a number of boat ramps around the lake. See the Lake Karapiro access map.

Methods When fishing the faster water below the Arapuni dam it is necessary to use a fast sinking line to ensure the lures get down to the fish which are usually near the bottom. This can result in some loss of tackle as snags are picked up. However, this is where the angler is more likely to catch that trophy fish. There is good fishing using dry fly in the summer months around the stream mouths, and throughout the year harling and trolling along the edge of the weed beds can be successful.
Recommended lures

Nymphs such as Green Caddis  fly work well in the evening or try the standard weighted Hare and Copper or Pheasant Tail when casting along the weed beds during the day.

Dry flies:
The prolific hatches of caddis fly during the summer months can give excellent dry fly fishing, especially around the stream mouths on warm evenings. Any dry fly that imitates an emerging or mature caddis fly can be successful.

Wet flies / Streamers:  
During the day use any smelt pattern such as Parson's Glory or Jack Spratt, or try a bully pattern such as MrsSimpson or Hamill 's Killer. In the evening and at night use dark patterns such as Black Marabou, Scotch Poacher or Fuzzy Wuzzy.

Tokoroa Chickens are generally very popular and successful although anglers should not ignore the Black and Gold Toby, green and gold Cobras and Tasmanian Devils

Tributaries The two major tributaries of Lake Karapiro are the Pokaiwhenua Stream and the Little Waipa Stream. There are also a number of other small streams, all of which can provide excellent fishing where they enter the lake as fish congregate near them to take advantage of food being washed into the lake as well as seeking shelter in the cooler water as it enters the lake.
Related waters See also Lake Aratiatia, Lake Ohakuri, Lake Atiamuri, Lake Whakamaru, Lake Maraetai, Lake Waipapa, Lake Arapuni and the Waikato River.
Applicable to Lake Karapiro
Region Auckland/Waikato regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait.

If fishing from a vessel in the upper reaches of Lake Karapiro (upstream from the white maker post, situated 200 metres below the Huihuitaha Stream mouth) , the vessel must be securely anchored.

No fish taken from other waters may be used as bait in Lake Karapiro.

Bag limit 2 trout (Rudd no limit)
Size limit (cm) 30 cm minimum

Other fishing waters of the region


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