HomeNorthlandNorthland: Where to FishWairua River

Wairua River

The Wairua River is Northland's largest river trout fishery with over 50km of productive fishing water and several small tributaries.
Fish type Both brown and rainbow trout are present in the system (the only major fishery in Northland to have brown trout), with fish averaging between 1 to 2 kg though some larger fish are taken throughout the system. Fish numbers are high and angling pressure is low.
Situation The Wairua River rises in the hills north of Whangarei and flows westwards, picking up a number of tributaries as it goes before it enter the Wairoa River, which flows into the northern arm of the Kaipara Harbour south of Dargaville.

Access map

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Description In the upper reaches, the Wairua River is small but quickly gains volume as it moves westward as a number of small tributaries join the river system. Several of these tributaries also offer good fishing, particularly in the cooler months. The upper reaches are mostly a series of small rapids and runs interspersed by some long and surprisingly deep pools and is easily wadeable. Bankside vegetation gives good cover for the fish and the water is generally very clear. Due to the size and clarity of the water great care must be taken when fishing this section to avoid spooking the fish. Access is limited in some areas although if permission is sought from the landowner it is generally given. . This section offers delightful small stream fishing in very attractive country that is best suited to dry fly and nymph.

In the middle reaches the river volume is greater although the flow is generally slower moving than in the upper reaches. There are however stretches of faster water that punctuate the many long gliding runs. As the river here flows over open farmland, access and fishing is generally easy. The lower reaches are tidal but still holds reasonable
numbers of fish. Much of the lower stretch of the river is tree-lined however, so access and casting is often restricted, making it best suited to spinning.

Access See the Wairua River access map.
Methods The upper reaches are best suited to nymph and dry fly fishing while the middle and the lower reaches suit wet fly or spinning.
Recommended lures

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

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

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


Black and gold Tobys and silver Tobys in the wider lower reaches, and small bladed spinners such as Mepps or Veltic in both the faster water and pools in the middle reaches.


There are a number of small streams that are tributaries to the Wairua and offer good fishing, especially during the early part of the season. These include the Waiotu River, the Waiariki River, the Kaikanui River, the Otonga River, the Mangahahuru River and the Kaimamaku Stream.

Applicable to Wairua River (excluding tributaries) downstream from the confluence of the Waiotu and Whakapara Rivers
Region Northland regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Trout: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: 300mm minimum
Trolling Anglers trolling from boats must stay at least 50 metres from any anglers fishing from the shore.

Other fishing waters of the region


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