HomeAuckland – WaikatoAuckland-Waikato: Where to fishWaihou River

Waihou River

The middle and upper reaches of the Waihou River offer excellent fishing using fly or spinner for a huge population of medium to small-sized rainbow trout in crystal clear very cold water.

Fish type Mostly small to medium-sized brown and rainbow trout (with over 95% of the fish being under 1 kg and less than 40cms in length) though with some larger fish in the lower reaches. Surveys by Fish and game showed there to be approximately 700 - 900 fish per kilometre in the upper section of the river.
Situation The Waihou river is spring fed and rises on the Mamaku Plateau to the east of Putaruru and then flows north to enter the Firth of Thames. A number of other streams and tributaries join the Waihou along its length, many of which are excellent fisheries in their own right.

Upper Waihou River:
Access map

Lower Waihou River:
Access map

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Above State Highway 5


The headwaters of the Waihou River are generally crystal clear due to their spring fed water source. The water remains clear except after very heavy rain and even then it tends to clear very quickly. The river flows over a pumice gravel bottom where submerged weed bed provide both shelter for the fish and an ideal habitat for the insect life
that forms the food source for the trout. There is also good bankside vegetation that continually provide a steady flow of terrestrial insects onto the water. Consequently, this
part of the Waihou has one of the highest concentrations of fish to be found anywhere in the country. Though most of the fish caught are under a kilogram in weight, there are some large rainbow trout present. The trout need to be approached with great stealth in the clear water as they are easily spooked. this is ideal dry fly fishing and nymphing water.


Access to the headwaters can be gained from Whites Road and Leslie Road. A "fishing reserve" provides public access to both sides of the river between Whites Road and SH5, except for the first kilometre above SH5 where the reserve is restricted to the true left bank only.Upstream from Whites Road a walkway runs alongside the river.

See the Upper Waihou access map.

See the Lower Waihou access map.

Upper/ Middle reaches

From SH5 to north of SH2 4


North of SH5, the river flows mostly over open farmland and offer superb dry fly and nymph fishing for the high population of trout. Great stealth must be exercised to avoid spooking the fish. This section of the Waihou was used as a venue for the 2008 28th Worlds Fly Fishing Championship. It has such a huge population of small fish that there is no limit on the number of fish under 30ms in length.


There are access points: - where the river is crossed by State Highway 5
- at Okoroire
- from State Highway 29
- from the Tauranga-Matamata Road (SH24).

Between SH5 and Okoroire, the only access is over private land after gaining permisison from the landowners on Somerville Road or SH5.

See the Upper Waihou access map.

Lower reaches

From north of SH24 to the mouth


The lower reaches of the Waihou are of much less interest to the angler as it tends to be deep and  sluggish. Unlike the upper reaches it also tends to carry some colour and will become dirty after rain. It is often willow lined and so is best fished with a spinner. There are however some surprisingly large fish in this section. The lower reaches are really only suitable for spinning.


See the Lower Waihou access map.

Recommended tackle

Upper and middle reaches: Due to the clarity of the water and the size of the river, very light tackle is recommended. Floating or intermediate lines in neutral colours and in weight five or lower are best. To avoid scaring the fish when casting, use long leaders with very light tippets.

In the lower reaches, use spinning rods capable of casting lures between 7 and 10 g.

Recommended lures

Small lightly weighted nymphs in sizes 14 to 18 in patterns such as Hare and Copper, Halfback, Pheasant Tail  and Stonefly nymphs work well throughout the season. During the summer unweighted midge patterns work well in early evening.

Dry flies:
In the upper and middle reaches, the Waihou offers superb dry fly fishing. Sedge / caddis patterns work well throughout the summer with beetle patterns working very well in early summer and cicada and cricket patterns from late summer to autumn.

Wet flies:
In the lower reaches try Hamill's Killer, MrsSimpson or a small winged wet fly such as a Dad's Favourite, March Brown or Greenwell's Glory in the middle or upper reaches.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners such as Veltic or Mepps work well or try a black and gold Toby.

Tributaries Along its length the Waihou river has a number of tributaries many of which are important fisheries in their own right. In the upper and middle reaches these include the Waimakariri, the Waiomou  Stream and the Oraka Stream. In the lower reaches is the Ohinemuri River with its many tributaries including the Waitewhet and the Waitekauri rivers.
Related waters Other clear spring fed rivers holding large population is of fish in the area include the many tributaries of the upper Waihou as well as the Pokaiwhenua and the Little Waipa streams.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Waihou below Okoroire Falls
Region Auckland/Waikato regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 5
Size limit (cm) 30cm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Waihou above Okoroire Falls
Region Auckland/Waikato regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit No bag limit but only 2 trout may be greater than 30cm in length.
Size limit Only two trout greater than 30cm in length may be taken.

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