HomeEastern – RotoruaEastern-Rotorua: Where to fishRangitaiki River

Rangitaiki River

The Rangitaiki is a major river that offers unparalleled fishing opportunities for all levels fishing expertise at different areas on the river - from the headwaters where anglers can fish for trophy size fish in crystal clear waters, to the lower reaches which are best suited
to spin fishing.

Notice At present there is a dispute with Timberlands who are the managers of the Kaingaroa Forest through which the Rangitaiki runs. Much of the fishing is now unable to be accessed and it is important to check what the situation is with Eastern Fish and Game before traveling to fish the area. See new policy from Timberlands.
Fish type Both brown and rainbow trout are present.
Situation The headwaters of the Rangitaiki river are in the hills to the east of Taupo township. From there the river flows north through the town of Murupara to reach the sea in the Bay of Plenty.

Upper Rangitaiki - Access map

Mid Rangitaiki River/Lake Aniwhenua - Access map

Lower Rangitaiki River/Lake Matahina - Access map

Check conditions View the rainfall at Kokomoka near the top of the Rangitaiki catchment

View the MetService weather forecast for:
- Whakatane
- Rotorua

Description Each of the three sections of the river offer very different fishing conditions. There are two hydro lakes - Lake Aniwhenua (a major fishery with a good population of trophy trout) and Lake Matahina - which are of interest to the angler as well.
Upper reaches

From the headwaters to Murupara.


In the upper reaches before the river crosses SH 5, the river is small and generally overgrown and therefore difficult to fish.

Downstream from SH 5 there is 25 kilometres of excellent, very highly regarded water where the river flows through the Kaingaroa Forest and over a shingle and stone bed. The water is generally slow flowing and is usually tinged light brown, making fish difficult to spot. There are some areas of faster water and riffles.


Although this section provides excellent spinner water most fisherman prefer to use the fly, particularly dry flies and nymphs. Fish in this section rise freely throughout
the day and there is also excellent nymph fishing. Over the summer period from October to March, during the caddis and mayfly hatches in particular, the fishing can be very good.

Fish numbers and size

Large numbers of both rainbow and brown trout around 2 kg, with many reaching impressive sizes (up to 5 kg), may be found in the upper reaches.


From SH5, take River Road. Then turn into the Eastern Boundary Road which gives access down to the small settlement of Te Awa.

The stretch from Te Awa camp to the upper limit at Otamatea is largely accessible and has an unsealed road running close by.

See the Upper Rangitaiki access map.

Kaingaroa Forest access and permits

Angler access into the Kaingaroa Forest is via Pekepeke Road and Kiorenui Road at Murupara.

To fish or camp in Kaingaroa Forest, first get a permit from:

Independent Security Consultants, 66 Tarewa Rd, Rotorua
Phone: 07 347 8880

You will need to supply your vehicle and fishing licence details.

If you are thinking of fishing the areas that require a forestry permit, it pays to ring Independent Security Consultants first to make sure the area is open, as the fire risk can be high in the summer months.

Fire risk

Camping is permitted only at Te Awa and depending on fire danger. Only gas fires may be used. Anglers must be very mindful of not starting fires during the dry months.


There are several major tributaries along the upper reaches of the Rangitaiki River. These include the Otamatea River, Otangimoana stream, the Wheao River (Rangitaiki Canal) and the Flaxy Lakes.

Middle reaches

From Murupara to Lake Matahina.


Here the river is generally deep and powerful, making it more suitable to spin fishing, which has produced some exceptional results. There are good sections suitable for the fly fisherman however, but due to the volume of the water it can be very difficult to wade safely. The trout rise freely and there can be excellent dry fly fishing, particularly on warm evenings though nymph fishing is the most popular method. Most fishing in this section is centred around Lake Aniwhenua and the tributaries.

Lake Aniwhenua

Probably the most important section of this river is the man-made Lake Aniwhenua which consistently produces large numbers of trophy size fish. See Lake Aniwhenua for more details.

Fish numbers and size

Fish numbers are very high and there are sections in the middle reaches where the trout reach very impressive sizes. This is particularly true of the man-made Lake Aniwhenua where fish over the magical 10 pound (4.5 kg) mark are regularly caught with some fish going over 6kg.


Access can be gained to the Rangitaiki River from Galatea Road which runs between Te Teko (SH 30) and Murupara. Often access is over farmland and permission must be sought from the landowner.

See the Mid Rangitaiki/Lake Aniwhenua access map.


A number of small rivers and streams feed into the Rangitaiki River along the middle section. These include the Whirinaki River, the Horomanga River, the Mangamako Stream, the Waihua Stream and the Waikakopu Stream.

Lake Matahina Lake Matahina is a deep hydro lake where trolling is the favoured method, with deep trolling in the summer being most productive. Spinning from the shore or at the dam end of the lake is also popular.


Road access is from Galatea Road which runs between Te Teko (SH 30) and Murupara. See the Lower Rangitaiki/Lake Matahina access map.

There is a single boat ramp on Lake Matahina.

Lower reaches

From Lake Matahina to the mouth.


The lower reaches of the Rangitaiki river are difficult to fish and are really only suited to spinning either from the banks or by boat. In the tidal area, spinning lures attract good sized trout. Further upstream, the adventurous fisher will find good fishing, but the vegetation becomes heavier and the water powerful and deep as it flows between steep banks.

Fish numbers and size

Fish numbers are lower than in the middle and upper reaches and the fish are generally smaller.


Below Matahina Dam, an angler track leads to productive water.

Galatea Road follows the true right bank for several kilometres below Lake Matahina. There is also good road access to the last few hundred metres before the river enters the sea.

Boat ramps are located at the mouth and at Lake Matahina. See the Lower Rangitaiki/Lake Matahina access map.

Recommended tackle When fly fishing use rods in the 5-7 weight range with either a floating line or if wet lining a slow to medium sink line.
Recommended lures

In the upper reaches small weighted nymphs in the Halfback, Hare and Copper, Rough Nymph and Pheasant Tail variants in sizes 14 - 16 are favoured. Similar patterns for the middle reaches but tied in darker colours and in sizes 12 - 14 are preferred.

Dry flies:
During the summer caddis patterns such as Goddards Caddis or Sedge patterns. In early summer in the upper reaches try beetle patterns and Cicada patterns in late summer. Blowfly and Bumble bee patterns can also be effective in the height of summer.

Wet flies:
Small wets such as March Brown, Invicta and Greenwell's Glory fished just sub-surface or try a Mrs Simpson or Hammill's Killer.

Spinners: Black Toby, Zed Spinners, Mepps and Veltic patterns

  • The Horomanga River is a small river containing large fish.
  • The Otamatea River is a challenging clear-water stream best waded.
  • Lake Aniwhenua is a man-made lake that is part of the Rangitaiki River.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Rangitaiki River below SH2 Bridge
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit No limit
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Rangitaiki River between the Otamatea confluence and the SH 2 bridge
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2 trout
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (3)
Applicable to Rangitaiki Canal (Wheao)
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2 trout
Size limit (cm) None

Other fishing waters of the region