A guide to fishing the Tongariro river  


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The Tongariro is arguably one of the most famous trout fishing rivers in New Zealand and a magnet for visiting anglers from all over the world. Its origins begin high in the breathtakingly beautiful Central Plateau of North Island where it is fed by the cool crystal clear streams that flow down from the hills and mountains.
In the early years anglers had to target the huge trout using downstream wet fly techniques and sinking lines but this all changed in the 1970’s with the completion of the Tongariro Power Development scheme. This effectively halved the flow rate of the river and opened it up to the many other methods enjoyed by anglers today.

In the upper reaches it winds it’s way through spectacular gorges covered in native bush, there are river5grade three rapids and slow deep pools before it flows through the small township of Turangi and then on to Lake Taupo. Each winter tens of thousands of fit silver rainbow trout and later trophy brown trout leave the lake and enter the feeder tributaries to begin their irresistible migration upstream. The Tongariro is the largest of these nursery rivers with over 50,000 trout running it every year. This annual migration now peaks around late September which is when angling pressure is at its greatest. With the opening of the back country rivers from October to May many anglers prefer to venture further afield but you don’t have to drive for hours or hire a helicopter to experience superb New Zealand fly-fishing. The summer fishing and dry-fly action on the Tongariro had until recently been its best kept secret with prolific mayfly and caddis hatches. From December onwards large brown trout also enter the river and slowly make their way upstream providing anglers with challenging but exciting sport.
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Turangi is situated in the center of the North Island around four hours drive from either Auckland or Wellington and is an ideal place to base yourself. The town is famously known as “The Trout Fishing Capital of the World” but if you want to experience more of the great kiwi outdoors the whole area offers hunting, white-water rafting, bush walks, horse-riding, mountain biking, skiing and fabulous sight-seeing.


river10The region is steeped in Maori history and is the tribal home of the Ngati Tuwharetoa people. In fact Turangi takes its name from a shortened version of a historically important Maori leader called Turangitukua.

If you intend fishing the awesome Tongariro River the town itself has a number of lodges and motels which specifically cater for anglers. Many of them are only a few minutes walk from some of the renowned town pools with names like “ Major Jones”, “Judges” and the “ Hydro”. There are also several well stocked tackle shops where you can top-up your fly-box before venturing out for a day on the river either on your own or with a local guide.
Many of the well known pools are sign-posted by the Department of Conservation, most with maps of the tracks and are easily accessed from the State Highway. But the Tongariro undergoes several floods annually and the river, tracks and crossings are constantly changing. This means there are always new angling opportunities in between the more stable and popular pools. Fast riffles, long glides and no name pools that you may walk past or not even discover without local knowledge. The use of a guide even for half a day will enhance your time on the river and fast track you to methods and locations which should increase your chances of hooking one of the many fine rainbow or brown trout this river holds. Keep your camera handy and at the end of your trip you will be able to look back at memories that will last a life-time.
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