HomeEastern – RotoruaEastern-Rotorua: Where to fishLake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera is a deep clear lake providing top-quality fishing for trophy size fish in a pristine environment. This lake is one of the most highly regarded fisheries in the country due to its beauty and the number and size of the fish it regularly produces.
Fish type Mostly rainbow with a few brown trout
Situation Lake Tarawera, situated under the now dormant Mount Tarawera, is one of the most remote and beautiful lakes within the Rotorua system.

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Lake Tarawera is a pristine lake surrounded by a ring of hills and dominated by the mass of Mount Tarawera. In 1886 Mount Tarawera erupted destroying most of the native bush around the lake. Consequently the lake is now ringed by secondary growth bush and scrub. The water in the lake is deep, very clear and very cold providing ideal trout habitat. Of all North Island regions, the Rotorua lakes are regarded as the closest in New Zealand to having a continental climate with hot, mostly dry summers and cool wetter winters.

As trout have an abundant food source within the lake they grow rapidly and reach some of the most impressive sizes of any trout in New Zealand or indeed the world.

While most of the fishing on this lake is necessarily done with a boat there are also opportunities for the shore-based angler around the western bays where there is road access. Boats are often used by anglers to reach some of the remote and isolated bays where the fishing can be superb and undisturbed by other anglers.

Some favoured spots for the shore-based angler include the Te Wairoa stream mouth, the Landing, Rangiuru Bay and Waitangi Bay.

The opening morning of any new season is a time of celebration with many anglers descending on the lake for a "dram" prior to the 5 am official start.

Fish numbers and size Lake Tarawera holds impressive numbers of very large rainbow trout, many of which reach and exceed that magical 10 pound (4.5 kg) mark. Fish over 6kg are regularly caught.

Lake Tarawera is approximately 18 km from Rotorua township and can be reached by taking the Tarawera Road that leads off State Highway 30 at the southern end of Lake Rotorua. This road allows access to the western shoreline and to a number of boat ramps. Most of the lake however is only accessible by boat. See the Lake Tawarewa access map.


On the western shoreline there are a number of very popular fly fishing spots. While these areas can fish well during the day they come into their own at change of light or at night. As the water is deep even close to the shore a sinking line is best during the day though a low to medium sinking line is better in the evening or on a dark night.

Trolling remains the most popular method of fishing this lake, particularly during the warmer months when the trout go deep. This requires however the use of lead core line or a downrigger to get the lures to the correct depth.

Jigging is rapidly increasing in popularity due to its success. Jigging also allows anglers to be in touch with the fish from the moment they take the lure or fly.

Recommended tackle

For trolling, over 100 metres of lead core line or a suitable downrigger capable of getting the lures down 20 to 30 metres is required. To jig this lake use either non-stretch nylon or the new fusion lines as these allow the soft takes of the fish to be felt more easily. A fish finder will help establish the depth of the fish.

When fly fishing from the shore during the day use a fast sinking line and a slow to medium sinking line in the evening or at night.

Recommended lures

Dry flies: Lake Tarawera is not noted as a dry fly lake but during the warmer months Cicada, Blowfly and Wasp patterns can be effective when these insects are being blown onto the water.

Nymphs: Lightly weighted Hare and Copper, Pheasants Tail and Halfback nymphs can be effective when fished on a floating line close to the shoreline. The "heave and leave” method with a Glo Bug is also popular when fishing from the shoreline in the evening or at night.

Wet flies / Streamers: Red Setter, Hamill's Killer, Green Rabbit and Parsons' Glory all work well during the day, and darker patterns such as Scotch Poacher, Fuzzy Wuzzy and Craig's Night-time at night.

Spinners: Black Toby, Tasmanian Devils, Flat Fish and Cobras all work well.

Tributaries There are a number of small streams that flow into Lake Tarawera, all of which provide excellent fishing at their mouths where they enter the lake especially at change of light. At the eastern end of the lake the Tarawera River flows out. Note that many of the streams that flow into the lake are permanently closed to all fishing (see the regulations).
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Lake Tarawera except the areas below
Region Eastern region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Jun
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Trout: 8
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Lake Tarawera winter shoreline area from Tarawera Outlet landmark to Te Tapahoro Bay landmark and 200m offshore.
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year
Methods All year: Artificial fly, spinner
1 Jul-30 Sept: Fishing for trout from a boat is prohibited.
Bag limit Trout: 8
Size limit (cm)

350mm minimum

Regulations (3)
Applicable to Lake Tarawera from Te Wairoa Landing landmark to the Otumutu Lagoon and extending 200m offshore.
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year

Fly and spin. Fishing from an unanchored boat is prohibited.

Bag limit Trout: 8
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum
for all trout
Regulations (4)
Applicable to Lake Tarawera within 200m of the Te Wairoa Stream mouth.
Region Eastern region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Jun

 Fly, spinner.

Fishing from an unanchored boat is prohibited.

Bag limit 8 Hen or female trout only
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum
Regulations (5)
Applicable to Tarawera Outlet Spawning Sanctuary
Region Eastern region regulations
Season Closed
Methods None.
No boats are allowed to pass through the spawning sanctuary at any time.
Bag limit 0
Size limit (cm) N/A
Regulations (6)
Applicable to All streams flowing into Lake Tarawera and that portion of the Tarawera River enclosed by landmarks at the Lake Tarawera Outlet and extending approximately 150m downstream to landmarks in the river, otherwise known as the Tarawera Outlet Spawning Sanctuary.
Region Eastern region regulations
Season Closed
Methods None.  No boats are allowed to pass through the Tarawera Outlet Spawning Sanctuary at any time.
Bag limit 0
Size limit (cm) N/A

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