HomeAuckland – WaikatoAuckland-Waikato: Where to fishPunui River

Punui River

The Puniu River is a highly regarded river with good stocks of both rainbow and brown trout which can reach impressive sizes and respond well to spinner and fly. There is excellent dry fly water in the upper reaches.

Fish type Rainbow and brown trout
Situation The Puniu rises in the Pureora Forest in the central Waikato and flows over open farmland and bush country to join the Waipa River near the small town of Pirongia, near Te Awamutu.

Access map

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Description In the upper and middle reaches the Puniu is a beautiful small river with many kilometers of fish-able water flowing over a stone and shingle bed. It is an excellent river that offers much to the angler who enjoys stalking fish that can be challenging to catch.
Upper reaches


In the upper reaches the river is quite small and flows mostly through native bush. The water here is very clear and fish can be spotted and fished to. Wading is easy. The native bush means a little more skill is required to ensure that the angler is not frustrated by catching the vegetation.

Fish numbers and size

Fish numbers a good averaging around the 1 kg range.


Fly fishing with light tackle and fly rods in weights 4-6. During the day, fish respond well to a sunk nymph while there is often a very good evening rise in the summer months of November to late March. Fish are often spotted and can be targeted.


Access is via the Kihikihi-Arapuni Road (off SH3) and taking Ngaroma or Duncan Roads. Access is generally across private land (including access to the headwaters from Duncan Road). See the Puniu River access map.

Middle reaches


The middle reaches flow over mostly open farmland allowing good fly fishing access but water clarity has been badly affected by farm run-off. There are good fish in the section but due to the poor water visibility, most of the fishing is done blind. After long dry spells the water becomes very clear and the fish more wary.

Fish numbers and size

There are good numbers of fish in this section, mostly around 1 kg size


This is prime fly fishing water. During the day, fish respond well to a sunk nymph while there is often a very good evening rise in the summer months of November to late March.


Access is via the Kihikihi-Arapuni Road (off SH3) and taking either Newman, Bailey, or Wharepapa Road. An access reserve extends 3 km downstream from Bayley Road and 3 km upstream from Ngaroma Road. See the Puniu River access map.

Lower reaches


The lower reaches offers poor quality fishing as the river is generally sluggish and silt laden, and so not as attractive to the angler.

Fish numbers and size

There is a good population of fish in the section around 1 + kg size.


The lower reaches are best suited to spin fishing though there can be a good evening rise on warm summer evenings.


See the Puniu River access map.

Methods In the middle and upper reaches the angler is treated to prime fly water. During the day, fish respond well to a sunk nymph while there is often a very good evening rise in the summer months of November to late March. Fish are often spotted and can be targeted. A good method is to use a dry fly / nymph tandem with the dry fly acting as the
indicator though fish will very often take the dry fly.
Fish numbers and size Good numbers of both rainbow and brown trout are present though rainbows are more common in the upper reaches and being a more aggressive fish and easier to catch, tend to make the bulk of the anglers bag. Average size is around 1kg though some very big fish do move up the river from the Waikato and Waipa, especially during the warmer summer months and towards the end of the season.
Access Access to the Puniu is generally easy with the river being able to be reached via the Wharepapa, Newman, Seafund Bayley and Ngaroma roads. See the Punui River access map.
Recommended lures

Lightly-weighted small nymphs (14 or smaller) in Hare and Copper, Pheasants Tail, Hare's Ear, Gold Bead Hare and Copper and horned caddis patterns all work well. Very small flies are necessary for the larger fish in the headwaters however.

Dry flies:
Small winged patterns such as Greenwell's Glory, March Brown or Royal Wulff all work well. Green Beetles are effective in early summer and Cicada patterns and and lace
flies from late summer are very effective.

Wet flies:
Small wet flies such as March Brown, Greenwell's Glory or sedge/caddis emerger patterns work well especially in the evening rise that can occur from late spring.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners such as Veltic or Mepps or Black and Gold Toby fished up into faster water and retrieved downstream or deep through the pools work well.

Tributaries The major tributaries of the Puniu River are the:
- Owairaka Stream
- Mangatutu Stream
- Waipara River
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Puniu above Seafund Rd bridge
Region Auckland/Waikato regulations
Season Oct 1-Jun 30
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 5
Size limit (cm) 30cm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Puniu below Seafund Rd bridge
Region Auckland/Waikato regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 5
Size limit (cm) 30cm minimum

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