The upper reaches of the Ongarue River run through a mixture of native bush of the Pureora Forest and open farmland. The water in the section generally runs clean and trout can often be spotted lying in the pools or runs. In the headwaters the river often remains very clear even when other rivers in the area are dirty after rain. The close vegetation shades the water in many places and makes fish difficult to spot and casting very difficult in the enclosed spaces. So prospecting with short casts and a dry fly / nymph combination is always a good option.
There is a major waterfall approximately 18kms along the Ongarue Stream Road (the Tinihanga Falls) that has a deep pool that holds good numbers of fish, especially late in the season when fish are trying to move upstream to spawn and are blocked by this natural obstacle. Above the waterfall there is a further 3 kilometres of water that holds fish as far as the next waterfall. There are no fish above the second waterfall however.
Fish numbers and size
Fish numbers in the section are high and mostly in the 1 to 2 kg range with larger fish in the river towards the end of the season. There are fewer fish above the waterfall.
Excellent nymph and dry fly water.
Access to the upper reaches is via the Ongarue Stream Road which runs parallel to the river for about 20 km. You can get further upstream by tramping. The adjacent
Pureora Forest provides several areas for camping. See the Ongarue River access map.
There is a small section of fishable water above the Tinahanga waterfall. While this section does have some open spaces the river is mostly narrow and rocky with not a lot of good holding water for the fish. The first 2 kms are accessible along the true left bank but unless you are prepared to wade upstream past blackberry covered banks, there are very limited fishing opportunities further upstream. A second waterfall in a deepish blackberry covered gorge about 3.5kms above the Tinihanga Falls mark the upper limit of fish.
As these headwaters are on private land we urge respect for the landowner's property and due to the small size of the stream ask anglers to practice catch and release in this section. If you do wish to fish this small stream we request that you phone the landowners, John and Jane Mason (email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07 8945851)
Note that there is no cell phone coverage for much of this river so contact the Masons well before your fishing trip.