Archive for the ‘Bay of Plenty’ Category

Lucky days

The drive from Wairoa north of Hawke Bay to Murupara is arguably one of the most scenic in the country. Also the road through the Urewera National Park is unsealed for many kilometers, it is suitable for conventional cars. Rivers, creeks, native forest and of course beautiful Lake Waikaremoana are all features of a special journey.

On arrival at Aniwhenua Lodge near Murupara we were welcomed by Luna, a cheeky ostrich peeking through the window of our cottage. Our hosts Graeme and Joan Ryder quickly set us up with the latest information about the river conditions and the fishing and off we went. With the main rivers, the Rangitaiki and the Whirinaki, running pretty high and dirty, we had a ball fishing small tributaries of the Rangitaiki River for the next 9 days. We caught some very nice Brown and Rainbow trout on our 5 weight rods set up with 2 nymphs. The fish were aggressive and after trying natural patterns as a point fly without much success, we used small egg patterns (#14 or 16) with good results.

The Horomanga, a small river flowing through a very narrow, beautiful valley usually gets a good run of fish from Lake Aniwhenua. And the Horomanga has the added bonus of a basic track following its banks. Because of the thick, impenetrable vegetation along many of the rivers with black berry and gorse playing havoc with waders, the only way of getting up and down a river is usually in the river itself. So after many hours of fishing, a track makes walking back much easier and quicker than having to wade all the way back in the water.

The fishing was great and being on our own on the water most of the time was even better. But even good things come to an end and winter will hopefully see a lot more fish coming up the rivers and doing their thing.

We are already looking forward to being back in summer. Aniwhenua Lodge is definitely a great place to be with so many backcountry rivers and Lake Aniwhenua right at its doorstep.

Sulphur City

Rotorua, our next destination about 200km to the south, is undoubtedly the geothermal capital of New Zealand. But there is much more to the lively town then the sulphur fumes; with 13 lakes to choose from the area is also a lake fisher’s dreams come true and if you are after some spectacular fun, Rotovegas – as the Fat Dog puts it – is the place to be. Like Queenstown it offers heaps of activities for adrenalin junkies. Whether you want a high speed jet boat ride, a bungee jump or Zorbing, Rotovegas has it all. 

Rotorua is the heartland of Maoridom and many exhibitions and events explain their culture and heritage. If you have ever the opportunity to go to a hangi, don’t miss it. The food cooked over hot rocks in the ground is very delicious indeed (watch out for the steam pudding!). 

When we arrived the weather was mild and sunny and all the rivers were running very low and clear. Conditions which did not trigger the spawning runs and there were very few fish migrating upstream even in creeks like the Ngongotaha. With the nights not cold, the winter shore fishing Rotorua is famous for was also quite slow with Lakes Okataina and Rotoiti just starting to fire up. Winter is big fish time with night fishing often bringing amazing results. 

Fisher putting in the effort and being out there very early in the morning and late at night usually got rewarded and some very nice fish up to 12 pound had been taken during our stay in Rotorua. Not being that tough any more we fished at daytime with the sun warming our backs but with much smaller fish resulting. Flies that worked well were black Wooly Buggers and lumo flies at night and brighter colored Wooly Buggers and Glow Bugs at daytime.


Rotorua offers many walking tracks around the lakes and in the forest and we enjoyed the native flora and the rich birdlife on many occasions. Unfortunately one of our favorite tracks up Mount Tarawera is no longer accessible after the land has been handed over to its traditional owners.

The ever present sulphur fumes are almost a trademark of Rotorua. We love it because it’s so special and seeing steam coming out of the pavement in the middle of town is very unique. Many households take advantage of the locality and use geothermally heated water for heating and geothermal powerstations generate electricity. But the high level of aggressive sulphur in the air has also its downsides. Many materials, especially metals get badly corroded in now time. Electronic devices such as TV’s and computers have a short live and cables, plumbings and even cars are prone to severe corrosion.  A silver ring of ours turned almost black during the first night of our stay.

Boiling mud pools, geysers, steaming hot pools and brightly colored mineral deposits are features found everywhere in and around town. We visited several thermal areas and enjoyed nature’s spectacle. And what’s better than soaking in a hot pool after a long walk?