HomeOtagoOtago: Where to fishHunter River

Hunter River

The Hunter River is a remote tributary of Lake Hawea that offers very good fishing in a remote and beautiful setting for a good population of rainbow trout and some large brown trout.

Fish type Mostly rainbow trout with some brown trout
Situation The Hunter rises in the Bealy Range and drains into the northern most section of Lake Hawea.

Access map by Google

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Description This glacial fed river is the major tributary of Lake Hawea and flows down a wide valley that can be exposed to the strong nor'westerly winds that frequently blow in this area. Early in the season it holds good numbers of fish but these can be hard to catch (and impossible to spot) as the water is often high and discoloured from snow melt. As the weather warms up the fishing improves and during late summer / early autumn is a very beautiful area to visit and fish.

At the mouth the river is quite wide and braided with a number of channels and backwaters. Early in the season these are worth exploring as the water is often clearer than in the main flow. Any side creek should also be investigated as fish will move into any clearer water. The fishing around the mouth where the river enters the lake is also good at all times of the season with fish able to be seen cruising in search of food.

The waters upstream are a true fishing idyll as the season progresses. Good stocks of fish in excellent fly fishing water amidst spectacular scenery makes for a wonderful day(s) fishing. The water tends to become cleaner and clearer as the season progresses but remains swift and surprisingly cold. Be careful when wading as the current is quite powerful. There is good clear banks for much of the valley allowing anglers to carefully stalk and cast to sighted fish.

Access The best way to access this river is by boat or helicopter. There is a track suitable for experienced 4 wheel drivers that crosses over the Hunter Valley Station for which permission is required to use.
Methods The middle and upper reaches are ideal dry fly and nymph waters (though spinners are permitted). The lower section is also good for fly fishing though also responds well to wet flies and spinners.
Recommended tackle 9 foot rods capable of casting a weight 6 - 7 line are ideal. Adjust the length of the leader according to the clarity of the water - the clearer the water the longer the leader.
Recommended lures

Weighted nymphs such as a roughly tied Hare and copper, Pheasants Tail, Prince nymph or Halfback are all suitable.

Dry flies:
Attractor flies such as a Royal Wulff early in the season with large bushy flies such as a Humpy or cicada in summer. Also carry a blowfly or bluebottle fly or two for summer fishing.

Wet flies:
Smelt imitations are worthwhile around the mouth

Spinners: Toby and Rapalas or even a red veltic (after all, these are mainly rainbow trout!)

Tributaries There are a number of small streams entering the Hunter. Most are too small to bother with but around their mouths where the join the main rivers can be worth exploring as fish often take advantage of the clearer water they bring in.
Applicable to Hunter River
Region Otago regulations
Season 1 Nov - 31 May. A backcountry licence is now required to fish this river.
Methods Artificial fly and spinner
Bag limit 1
Size limit (cm) None

Other fishing waters of the region


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