HomeTaupo – TurangiTaupo Turangi: Where to fishLake Taupo

Lake Taupo


Lake Taupo is one of New Zealand's premier freshwater fishing destinations and is an internationally renowned trout fishery. Taupo offers superb fishing for large brown and rainbow trout all year: mainly boat fishing in  summer and fly fishing in winter.

Fish type Both rainbow and brown trout
Situation New Zealand's largest lake (surface area of 616sq km) is situated in the middle of the North Island on a volcanic plateau 359 metres above sea level. Due to its very cold clean water and abundant food sources it produces huge numbers of well conditioned fish. It is very deep in places (up to 185 metres) but has many areas that provide excellent shoreline fishing. Some of the best areas for shoreline angling are around the many stream mouths where fish congregate during the warmer months and to
which they migrate during the winter spawning runs.
Maps and charts

Access map

LINZ topographic maps: (260 Map Series, 1:50,000)
T18 Kuratau
U18 Taupo
T19 Tongariro

Download Navigation Chart NZ 232  for Lake Taupo from the LINZ website.

Check conditions

Lake level

View the current lake level.

Mighty River Power maintains the the lake level within a 1.4 metre range, using the Taupo Gates located just north of Taupo under the State Highway 1 bridge to control the amount of water flowing down the Waikato River.

Weather forecast

View the MetService weather forecast.

Harbourmaster's boating  brochure

An information brochure is available from the Harbourmaster's Office, by phoning
(07) 378-7176, or writing to PO Box 256, Taupo. The brochure includes:

  • a map of the lake showing navigation lights,
    boat ramps, ski lanes, no-boat-fishing areas
  • information about lights and buoys, including
    launching ramp etiquette

More information about boating on Lake Taupo is available from the Harbourmasters Office webpage.

Coastguard services

Lake Taupo Volunteer
Coastguard operates:
- a radio service on channel 61
- a dedicated rescue vehicle
- education
- lake watchers volunteer monitoring service

For more information, see the Taupo coastguard website.

DOC pamphlet For information on how to fish the lake in summer, including rigs and seasonal information, pick up a copy of the brochure "Trolling? Tips for boat fishing on Lake
Taupo" from the DOC office in Turangi. Or request a copy  by emailing [email protected]

No matter what the time of the year, there can be excellent fishing for fish up to trophy size in Lake Taupo and its tributaries.

Winter fishing

During the winter months huge numbers of large trout enter all the rivers and make their way upstream to spawn. This is the premier fishing time: the trout that enter the rivers are in prime condition and trophy size fish are regularly caught.

The river and stream mouths are popular fishing locations. Fish tend to move up the rivers after a heavy rainfall has caused the rivers to rise (a fresh). As the water drops and clears during the winter months the fishing (using flies only) can be superb. See Lake Taupo tributary and stream mouths for further details.

Summer fishing

Summer can also offer excellent fishing on Lake Taupo. In early summer the smelting season coincides with the return of spawning fish to the lake and some exciting fishing can be experienced in the shallows of the lake. During the late spring and early summer the trout move into the shallows chasing smelt (a small fish). Large fish can be caught either fishing from the shore or by harling a shallow lure that resembles a smelt along the shoreline.

Fishing etiquette

Shoreline fishing

Some of the Lake Taupo stream mouths can be very popular and so it is vital to be aware of the fishing etiquette that applies (coming soon).

Boat fishing

If you plan to launch a boat, please see boat ramp etiquette (coming soon).


The most popular method for fishing the lake is trolling, including leadline trolling, wire lining, or the use of downriggers to troll at a deeper level. Jigging the dropoffs and fly-fishing around the lake shore and at river mouths are also popular methods (though note that boat fishing is not permitted around many of the points where rivers and streams enter the lake).

In the rivers during the summer months there can be good dry fly and nymph fishing, particularly in the early morning and evenings. Similarly, after dark from late summer, large brown trout beginning their spawning migration can be caught using a large wet fly swung downstream into the tail of the bigger pools, or at stream and river mouths.

Fish numbers and size Lake Taupo contains huge numbers of rainbow and brown trout  averaging around 1.4kg though many much larger fish are also within the lake and surrounding rivers.
Fish of over 7kg (15 lb) are caught each year.
Access Lake Taupo is easily accessed with State Highway 1 running the length of the eastern shoreline.

On foot

A 20-metre walking right-of-way extends around most of the lake for licenced anglers. For the most part this access is across privately owned Maori land and the access rights do not include access for vehicles. See the Lake Taupo access map.

By boat

A permit is required to use public boat ramps for boat launching. A permit is required to use public boat ramps for boat launching. These are available from most local dairies, service stations and sports shops. See the map and list of boat ramps and please also see boat ramp etiquette.

Motutaiko Island access prohibited

Access to Motutaiko Island which lies 3.4 km off the south-eastern shore of Lake Taupo is prohibited as the privately owned island is tapu (sacred) to the people of Ngati Tuwharetoa Iwi.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: Globugs, Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tails and Halfback at times of change of light or at the mouth of any inflowing water.

Dry flies: Daddy Long Legs , Coch-y-Bondu , Cicada patterns and Green Beetle in summer. Caddis patterns around Oct - Dec in the evenings.

Wet flies:

  • Night time: Black Phantom, Craig's Night Time, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Scotch Poacher or dark Rabbit pattern.
  • Day time: Woolly Bugger, Hamills' Killer, Mrs Simpson, Red Setter, Parson's Glory, Grey Ghost, Taupo Tiger and other smelt patterns or try the smaller patterns such as Invicta, March Brown or Greenwell's Glory during the summer months.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners such as Veltic or Mepps,  Black and Gold Tobys or Tasmanian Devils or Cobras (in a variety of colours - check with local fishermen what is working well at the time) when trolling. Note: All rivers are fly fishing only.


Some 30 rivers and streams flow into Lake Taupo. The Waikato River is the only outlet.

The following eastern tributaries are popular and provide excellent winter fishing:
Hinemaiaia River
Tauranga-Taupo River
Tongariro River
Waimarino River
Waiatahanui River

There is also good fishing at the smaller Lake Taupo tributary stream mouths.

Applicable to Lake Taupo
Region Taupo fishery area regulations
Season All year except for the Taupo Wharf, Taupo boat jetties, and the control gates over the Waikato River at Taupo which are closed.

Boat fishing, fly fishing and spinner fishing are permitted:
- more than 200 metres from stream mouths
- less than 200 metres from unmarked stream mouths.

Fly fishing only (and no boat fishing) is permitted
less than 200 metres from all marked stream mouths. They are marked
with a clearly visible white, yellow and black ringed post.

Fly fishing and fishing from an anchored boat
only are permitted less than 200 metres from:
- the Tongariro river mouth
- the Tauranga-Taupo river mouth
- Te Rae Point (Kuratau Spit)

No boat fishing is permitted in the Taupo Boat Harbour (the Waikato River from the outlet to control gates bridge)

Spin fishing is permitted in Lake Taupo outside of the fly-fishing-only areas (see Trolling and Jigging above), in the Tokaanu Tailrace, and lakes Te Whaiau, Otamangakau, Kuratau and in the Hinemaiaia River upstream of the lower dam.

The use of electronic fish attracting devices is prohibited.

Fishing tackle
  • You can only fish with one rod at any time, but you may have other assembled rods with you.
  • You may use up to three flies or lures on your line.
  • Only single-point hooks may be used, and a lure (including flies) may not have more than one hook attached.
  • There is no weight restriction on flies and lures but the maximum allowable hook size is one that has a 14 mm gap between point and shank
  • The use of baits is not permitted and only artificial flies or lures may be used for trolling, jigging and spinning.
Bag limit 6
Size limit (cm) 35cm minimum

Other fishing waters of the region