HomeWellingtonWellington: Where to fishHautapu River

Hautapu River


The Hautapu is a good, easily accessible small river that holds good stocks of reasonable sized trout some of which can reach weights close to 4kg. It changes character over the season being prone to becoming dirty after rain and low and clear during the summer months. A wonderful river for the more experienced angler to test their skills.

Fish type Brown trout
Situation The Hautapu rises in the the Ngamatea swamp and drains the southern Kaimanawa ranges. It flows south and joins the Rangitikei River south of Taihape.

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The Hautapu is a rain fed small river that flows over mostly open land. In places it becomes bordered by high steep banks with the close dense vegetation making it hard to access. Generally however it has clear banks making for easy casting and access along the river.

During the early part of the season and after any rain the river can silt up and be hard to fish. It also can take a few days to clear.

During dry periods the river can become quite low and clear making the fish rather wary. At these times of clear water however it is a great dry fly river as fish can be easily spotted as they rise freely and will take a dry fly. It does require some skill to fish this water as one false cast can send these wary fish darting for cover.

The river has well defined pools and short patches of faster water. Trout tend to hold in the pools and around any rocks etc. During the summer they will often be close to any overhanging vegetation. When the water is clear they can be spotted and a careful approach is necessary.

Fish numbers and size For a small river the Hautapu holds a good number of relatively large brown trout up to 2kg (and even larger in some areas)
Access The Hautapu generally flows over pastoral land and State Highway 1 follows it (and crosses several times) for some distance making access relatively easy. It is important on this river to ask landowners permission before fishing as the river tends to meander over land and can take anglers onto private property.
Methods This river fishes well with a nymph and / or a dry fly. A good option is to set up with a a dryfly with a nymph below. During the times when the water is clear, longer leaders are useful to avoid spooking the fish.
Recommended tackle Rods of 9 foot and 5 -7 weight (though during the warmer dry months of Jan - March use weight 4 - 5 lines). As the river is quite small with many snags, use as heavy lines and leaders as you can to ensure you can control these large fish in the confined space.
Recommended lures

Dark weighted nymph patterns in sizes 14 to 16 such as Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymphs and Halfbacks all work well, particularly when there is some colour in the water.

Dry flies:
During the summer size 12 to 16 flies fished to sighted fish. Royal Wulff, cicada (in late summer), Parachute Adams, Humpy and beetle and cricket patterns. (Look for what is around and try and imitate it). Many anglers use wet fly spider patterns to great effect in the summer months.

Wet flies/ Streamers: 
Small wet flies such as March Brown, Greenwell's Glory, Grouse and Claret and Mallard work well, particularly in the evening when fish are taking emergers  just sub-surface. When fishing deeper try Hamill's Killer, Mrs Simpson or Red Setter.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners such as Veltic or Mepps fished upstream and retrieved near the river bed just faster than the current work well (though beware of the many snags and be prepared to lose some tackle if adopting this method). Also note that spinning is not permitted above the road bridge on State Highway 1 near the Taihape Golf Club.

Tributaries There are no tributaries of note but do prospect around any inflowing water - especially in the warmer months when fish will be searching for cooler water and any food drifting down to them.
Regulations 1
Applicable to Hautapu River upstream from bridge 741/1096 on State Highway 1 near Taihape Golf Club.
Region Wellington region regulations
Season 1 Oct - 30 April
Methods Fly fishing only
Bag limit 1
Size limit (cm) Maximum size allowed is 550mm (all fish above this size must be returned to the water unharmed)
Regulations 2
Applicable to Hautapu River downstream from bridge 741/1096 on State Highway 1 near Taihape Golf Club.
Region Wellington region regulations
Season 1 Oct - 30 April
Methods Fly fishing, spinner and bait
Bag limit No limit
Size limit (cm) None

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