HomeHawkes BayWhere to fishMohaka River

Mohaka River

The Mohaka is a large premier fishery offering a range of angling experiences from remote wilderness fishing to easily accessible waters for a good population of trout, many of which can reach trophy size.

Water Conservation Order (WCO) A WCO was granted in 2004 that covers the Mohaka and its tributaries in recognition of this outstanding trout fishery above the SH5 bridge and in the tributaries. The order also covers the outstanding scenic characteristics of the Mokonui and Te Hoe gorges, and the river's value for a range of water-based recreation and sporst from the bridge to Willow Flat.

To read the full legislation document for the WCO applied to this waterway click here

Fish type Both rainbow and brown trout are present throughout the system to above Pakaututu where brown trout are predominant, with mainly rainbows below this point, with a good average around 1.5 kg though many much larger fish are present, with some reaching over 4 kg.
Situation The Mohaka River rises in the Kaimanawa Ranges and flows first south-east before turning east to enter the sea south of Wairoa in the Hawke's Bay. In the headwaters it drains the Kaimanawa and Kaweka forests.

Upper Mokaka Access map

Lower Mohaka Access map

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The Mohaka River is a large water that drains a considerable area of land. The upper reaches and its many tributaries flow through around 20 km of remote native bush, providing top-quality wilderness fishing for a good population of large, mostly brown trout. The water quality in the section is almost always very good and the river is only unfishable under the most extreme weather conditions. There is an excellent food source for the trout, most of which are in prime condition. However, some sections of the river are unfishable because of the steep inaccessible gorges but the river provides many kilometres of very fishable water.

Winter fishing

After a decent rain the Mohaka generally clears within 1-2 days. A lot of areas that are calm and narrow in summer may become wide and swift in winter, necessitating the use heavier weight rods with sinking lines. Casting long across the current, and letting the line drift down stream before retrieving, enables the angler to cover vast areas of water with one cast, and increases the chances of catching a fish.

Upper reaches

Upstream from the Pakaututu road bridge.


The upper reaches are very remote and mostly inaccessible by road. To fish the section requires either a long walk or a helicopter to access the river. The river flows through native bush-land and although some sections are inaccessible, there are very large stretches providing many kilometres of top-quality wilderness fishing for the adventurous and energetic angler. The section is particularly well-suited to nymph fishing though during the summer there can be excellent dry fly fishing as fish rise to take any insects that are blown onto the water. There is plenty of opportunity for the wet line fisherman as well, particularly when fishing some of the very deep pools. Be aware of private land on the true right of the Mohaka as fishing from the true right side of these rivers is not permitted.

Fish numbers and size

Brown trout make up the bulk of the fish in this section, with some reaching trophy size (over 4.5 kg).


There is very limited road access to these upper reaches and most anglers either walk in (between five to eight hours) or fly in by helicopter from Poronui station.

There is foot access (no mountain bikes or any motorised vehicles) along a poled route from Poronui Station, which takes about 3-4 hours (12km). There is a safe car park at the beginning of the walkway and a well sign posted access to the Upper Mohaka as well as the Taharua, Oamaru (13km) and Kaipo tributaries. Note that there is no hunting allowed on Poronui Station.

Above the McVicor Rd Bridge, an access track follows the river edge  allowing anglers to fish a long section into the headwaters.

Middle reaches

Downstream from the Pakaututu road bridge


The middle reaches are much more accessible in the upper reaches can provide the angler with the opportunity to fish for a large population of predominantly rainbow trout. The bed of the river is mostly stone and as the current can be deceptively strong, great care should be taken when wading. There is wide variety of water along this stretch from some easily accessible water through to quite remote stretches of river.

Fish type and size

Rainbow trout average around 1.5 kg though many much larger fish are regularly caught.


The Taupo-Napier Road (State Highway 5) crosses the Mohaka River, and Waitara Road follows the river along the true right bank, with side roads leading off it offering good access to many stretches of the river. There are many other roads such as Willowflat Road, Pohokura Road and Pakaututu Road all providing access to sections of the river.

Despite these access points however, a large section of the middle reaches is still very remote and only able to be accessed by walking or using a raft or kayak.

Walking tracks:

  • Between the Glenfalls Recreation Reserve and Jock Sutton road. This track which will drop down to the river from Waitara Road, initially just to the riverbed, but later downstream as far as possible towards Jock Sutton Road. The track will open up a whole new section of good fishable water.
  • Above the McVicar Rd Bridge, following the river edge as far up as possible, allowing anglers to fish as far up as they can.
Lower reaches

The very lower reaches of the river are not highly regarded but still hold a good population of trout. The section is best fished when the whitebait are running in October and November when the trout move downstream to take advantage of this food source. Some sea run trout also venture into the river in autumn.

Methods The Mohaka river is suitable for all types of fishing. Probably the most popular and productive method is using a nymph although there is plenty of opportunity for the wet fly fisherman and those wishing to pursue trout with a dry fly. There is also excellent spinner fishing opportunities throughout the length of this river.
Recommended tackle Due to the size of this river, rods around 8'6" to 9ft and in weights 5 to 7 are favoured. Spinning gear with around 3 kg/6 pound nylon or stronger is needed due to the size of the fish in the strong current of the river.
Recommended lures

Dark weighted nymph patterns in sizes 12 to 14 such as Hare and Copper, Pheasants Tail, Prince nymphs and Halfbacks all work well.

Dry flies:
During the summer large size 10 to 12 flies fished over the faster water can be very effective. Dry Royal Wulff, cicada patterns, Parachute Adams, Humpy, and beetle and cricket patterns.

Note: On some years during the summer mice feed upon the nuts that grow on the beech trees lining the banks of the river. Many of these fall in the water to become a meal for the large brown trout that lie in wait for them so a mouse fly fished across the surface can be very effective during these times.

Wet flies / Streamers:
Small wet flies such as Invicta, March Brown, Greenwell 's Glory, Grouse and Claret and Mallard work well, particularly in the evening when fish are taking emerger patterns just subsurface. When fishing deeper try Hamill's Killer, Mrs Simpson, Yellow Rabbit and Red Setter.

Spinners: Many spinners work well though when fishing the upper reaches use duller colours as brown trout predominate, and use brighter colours in the middle and lower reaches where there are mainly rainbow trout present.


There are a large number of tributaries to the Mohaka, the biggest tributary being the Waipunga River which is an important fishery in its own right.

In the headwaters the Oamaru, the Kaipo and the Taharua all join near Poronui to become the Mohaka. Other tributaries include the Ripia river, the Makino River and the Inangatahi. There are also a number of other small streams that flow into the Mohaka that can be worth exploring, particularly early in the season.

Related waters Sea also the Waipunga River.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Mohaka River above the confluence with the Mangatainoka River
Region Hawkes' Bay region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 June
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Mohaka River below the confluence with the Mangatainoka River to SH5
Region Hawkes' Bay region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (3)
Applicable to Mohaka River below the SH5 Bridge
Region Hawkes' Bay region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 4
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (4)
Applicable to Mohaka River tributaries
Region Hawkes' Bay region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 June
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 1
Size limit (cm) None

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