Archive for July, 2010

The capital

Finally in Turangi, the self proclaimed trout fishing capital of the world! Situated on the banks of the famous Tongariro River at the southern end of Lake Taupo, the fishing opportunities and the quality of the fish this laid back town has to offer are truly something special. Within an hour’s drive are countless rivers and creeks just waiting to be explored. The King country to the west being much underestimated with many great fishing opportunities.

Seeing dear friends after more than 8 years and catching up was wonderful and we already enjoyed many delicious dinners together. The evenings usually go by just too quickly with a yummy meal, interesting discussions and a lot of laughter. With Jock and Harry, the two new dogs our friends got a while ago, always being part of the fun. They are very handsome and love to cuddle up, but despite their very friendly nature both are great, well trained hunting dogs.

Winter is now in full swing with temperatures at night time down to -6°C and between 5 and 12°C during the day. The weather has been brilliant for the last two weeks – the school holidays – and many families enjoyed a day on the Whakapapa skifield on Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand largest skiing area. Snow is still a bit scarce, but some of the lifts are running.

Winter and especially school holidays are a busy time also on the rivers; the Tongariro being the most targeted with some of the pools close to town crowded at times. But if one is prepared to walk, there is always a spot to be found where no one is around. Because of the sunny, dry weather, the water flows low and clear everywhere and not a lot of fish are running.

The Tauranga-Taupo River or T-T needs a fresh to bring more fish up the river. The Hinemaiaia, another small river flowing into Lake Taupo, fishes well though. These small rivers are a real trout paradise full of driftwood and other structure. The wood and overgrown banks are hard on our gear and some days the number of lost flies reaches double figures. So Béatrice spends many evenings on the vice tying nymphs that will hopefully deceive the fish of a lifetime. With the water being low and clear and the fish being finicky, a combination of a heavier nymph in size 10 or 12 and a small natural nymph pattern in size 14 or even 16 brings the best results. On the small rivers we use our 5 weight rods, on the Tongariro, which requires even heavier nymphs, we use 7 and 9 weights. We are still practicing casting with our 11’ switch cast rod, which would be perfect for fishing big waters like the Tongariro. We will get there eventually.

Our wading boots get a hard beating with a lot of walking along the rivers and wading in the riverbeds with very abrasive rocks. No wonder our new sticky-rubber soles looked quite worn after a short period of use, especially in the front parts. A while ago we decided to use Simms star cleats to protect the front of the soles against premature wear. The screwed in cleats – 3 to 5 on each boot – work very well and the soles will hopefully last much longer this way.

This week a 14 pound brown trout has been taken on the Tongariro and many more fish around the magic 10 pound mark have been caught in the last few weeks. Even if fish numbers are not that high at the moment, there is always the chance of a good catch.

We haven’t done any river mouth fishing yet, but others are fishing the mouths to good avail. It’s always a funny sight to see 8 or 10 fishers standing side by side waist deep out in the lake casting their offerings out in to the depths for hours.

It’s not all about fishing though and again we did some terrific walks in the area. We did not hike the Tongariro Crossing, one of New Zealand’s great walks, this time, but we did many shorter ones up the volcanoes. Three days ago on a clear, sunny day we went up to the south crater from Mangatepopo road end – the first part of the crossing – while the peaks of Mount Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, covered in fresh, gleaming white snow, looked down on us. Out west the distinctive shape of Mount Taranaki could clearly be seen against a cloudless, blue sky. The good conditions attracted many people and some tackled the mountains in shorts and sneakers, not exactly an appropriate outfit for an alpine walk in wintertime. But as a friend uses to say: No brain, no pain.

For the first kilometers the track crosses areas with diverse alpine scrub vegetation. The higher up it goes, the younger the underground becomes and after an hour of walking we found ourselves surrounded by sharp, dark lava rocks with only very little signs of plant life. With the previous nights very cold, frost was still present at mid day and every little stream was covered in ice.

After a long hike or a day standing in a cold river, we love to soak in the Tokaanu thermal hot pools just a couple of kilometers to the west of Turangi to relax and get warm again.

The nearby Tongariro National Trout Center has seen a lot of exciting changes since our last visit in 2002 with a new aquarium still under construction, scheduled for opening by the end of this year. The visitor center offers interesting insights into the history of trout fishing and the biology of freshwater habitats. On the day of our visit there was a kid’s fish out day going on with girls and boys fishing with a fly in the Centers fish out pond. Great to see all those happy faces!

For the latest local in-depth fishing information go to:

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.

The spell

With the end of the fishing season – 30th June – coming closer, we choose Hawke Bay as our next stop with the intention to fish some of the many great rivers and creeks in the bay before the winter closing. We had been looking forward to being in Hawke Bay for a long time because of good friends living there. 

Unfortunately, the rain that had been missing in other parts of the North Island for a very long time was flooding Hawke Bay for weeks and all the rivers ran high and dirty. The rain was like a bad spell and every time we had a couple of days with fine weather and the rivers started to clear, a new front arrived.

Catching up with our friends was great and we enjoyed their company very much. What a pleasure to be invited to stay in their holiday home in the hills with great views, heaps of space and everything one needs to be comfy. Fishing the rivers being out of question didn’t matter that much anymore and we did some fine walks and a lot of reading and doing nothing instead. We didn’t even bother to visit some of the many wineries in Hawke Bay, but we certainly savored their high quality products. 

Being together with our friends and on our own in our temporarily cosy home, time went by all too fast and we had to leave for Murupara, if we wanted to enjoy some of the finest end of the season fishing.

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?