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Moawhango River


The Moawhango River provides challenging fishing for a good population of brown and some rainbow trout in a remote and attractive setting. This river is best suited to energetic anglers who are prepared for some steep climbs and deep water wading to cross the river.

Fish type Mostly brown with some rainbow trout
Situation The Moawhango River rises east of Waiouru and flows in a southerly direction to join the Rangitikei  near Taihape. Part of the river flows over army land and so is not accessible to the public.

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast.

The Moawhango River rises in the tussock highlands near Tongariro and within the New Zealand Defence Force Army Training Area. In 1979 a dam was built near the headwaters to divert water for hydro electric power production. The river downstream from this dam has been severely reduced as a consequence. Despite this extraction of water, the Moawhango still provides excellent fishing for energetic and fit anglers who are prepared to scramble up and down steep hills and be prepared for some deep water river crossings. The river bed can get very slippery during the summer and care should be taken when wading.

The upper reaches and headwaters, as well as the shallow man-made Lake Moawhango, are with in the army training area and are consequently not accessible to anglers. The central section downstream from Moawhango village provides reasonable access with a road paralleling the river for some distance. Upstream from Moawhango village can also provide good fishing if you obtain the land owners permission to cross their land. Much of the river however flows through a deeply sided valley and it is not an easy river to access. Consequently it also receives little angling pressure making it a great alternative for anglers wishing to find some remote fishing where they are very unlikely to see anyone else fishing.

The lower reaches are virtually impossible to access as the river flows through a deep steep sided valley.

After rain, the water in this river can quickly discolour and so is best left for a few days to clear before attempting to fish.

Fish numbers and size Brown trout predominate with some rainbow trout also present. Numbers are good and fish average around 1.5 kg.
Access The best area to access this remote river is along the Moawhango Valley Road which follows the river through its most accessible section. The Moawhango Valley Road can be reached by turning off SH 1 onto the Te Moehau Rd at Te Moehau Junction south of Waiouru.
Methods This river is really a nymph and dry fly water. During the warmer months, trout rise freely and there is often a very good evening rise.
Recommended tackle Rods capable of casting 5 to 7 weight lines. As the river generally carries some colour, leaders do not need to be very long with 9 to 10 feet generally being sufficient.
Recommended lures

Dark patterns with some weight such as a Caddis pattern, Pheasant Tail, or a roughly tied Hare and Copper type pattern in sizes 12 to 16. Fish on this river seem to respond best to very roughly tied nymphs.

Dry flies:
Caddis imitations from late spring through summer. Try a larger cicada or cricket  pattern when these insects about from mid to late summer. Larger Royal Wulff patterns are also effective particularly when fished in tandem with a trailing nymph.

Wet flies:
Try bully patterns such as a Mrs Simpsons or Kilwell pattern especially if the water is a little dirty.

Spinners: This water is not recommended for the spin or bait fisherman

Tributaries Nil
Applicable to Moawhango River
Region Wellington region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 4
Size limit (cm) None

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