HomeNorthlandNorthland: Where to FishWaipapa River

Waipapa River

The Waipapa River offers excellent backcountry rainbow trout fishing in a small, attractive river that rises and flows through a native bush setting.
Fish type Rainbow trout averaging over half a kilogram though with some fish up to 1.5kg.
Situation The Waipapa River rises in the Puketi Kauri State Forest and flows east to enter the sea at the Kerikeri Inlet.

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast.

The Waipapa River flows through native bush and is the closest Northland has to a wild backcountry fishery. The water is generally very clear and the upper and middle reaches which flow through the state forest is very attractive, offering the angler the chance to fish for a good population of trout in a near-wilderness setting. There is a good walkway along the river that offers anglers many kilometres of easy access to a large section of the river.

The river is mostly long shingle runs and pools and is easily waded. There is good vegetation along the banks that provides both cover for the fish as well as a good food source from the insects that blow onto the water.

Fish can be easily seen in the gin-clear water and so care must be taken to avoid spooking the fish. There can be an excellent evening rise during the warmer months. This fishery is highly recommended as it receives limited angling pressure.


To access the upper reaches within the Puketi Kauri State Forest, drive down Forest Road which is located off State Highway 1 about 8 km north of the small township of Okaihau. At the end of Forest Road there is a car park where anglers can leave their vehicles. See the Waipapa access map.

Methods The upper reaches in the Puketi Forest are best suited to nymph and dry fly. The middle and lower reaches respond well to spinning as well as fly fishing.
Recommended tackle Because of the size of this river and clarity of the water, the upper reaches require light weight rods around the 8' 6" length and preferably in a 5 weight or lower. Spinning also requires light tackle and rods capable of casting 7g (or lighter) lures are preferred.
Recommended lures

In the upper and middle reaches lightly weighted stoneflies and mayfly patterns such as Pheasant Tail, Halfbacks and Hare and Copper in sizes 14 to 18.

Dry flies:
Popular patterns include Royal Wulff, Adams, Blue Dun, Coch-y-Bondhu, and green beetle patterns (during the early summer), and cicada and cricket patterns late in the summer.

Wet flies / Streamers:
In the lower reaches use streamer flies such as a Grey Ghost, yellow Rabbit, Jack Spratt or other whitebait pattern during the day, and
dark patterns such as Craig's Night-time and Scotch Poacher during the evening and at night. Bully patterns such as Mrs Simpson or Hamill's Killer work well in the middle and lower reaches. In the middle and upper reaches use small wee-wets such as March Brown, Red Governor and Hardies Favourite during the evening rise when fish are often taking emerging insects just subsurface.

Spinners: Black and gold Tobys or silver Tobys in the lower reaches and small bladed spinners such as Mepps or Veltic in the upper reaches. As this is a predominantly rainbow fishery, brighter colours such as gold and red tend to work well during the day.

Applicable to Waipapa River
Region Northland regulations
Season Oct 1-Apr 30
Methods Artificial fly, spinner.
Bag limit Trout: 1
Size limit (cm) Trout: 300mm minimum

Other fishing waters of the region


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