|| Brown trout and
rainbow trout averaging around 2kg in weight but with many much bigger
fish present in the river. Rainbows tend to make up the bulk of the
Tongariro is a wide swift flowing river which enters Lake Taupo's
near the township of Turangi. The river flows over a mixture of rock,
gravel and sand and tends to clear relatively quickly after rain.
The river is large and deceptively powerful. While it is prone to
flooding after heavy rain it does clear quickly.
showing the pools
map with topography
topographic maps: 1:50,000 (260
Department of Conservation map:
The DOC web site has a Tongariro River map after
the floods of February 2004 which drastically changed parts of its
course. A3 sized copies of the Tongariro River map are available
free from the Turangi DOC office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
View graphs of the current river flow at the
Genesis Energy website:
the Major Jones Pool, Turangi
the Poutu intake
View graphs of recent
rainfall at Turangi at the Genesis Energy website.
webcam and weather readings updated every 30 minutes by River
Birches fishing lodge.
Tongariro Pool Reports
For angler ratings of the various pools, see
River Pools Ratings.
View the MetService
weather forecast for Taupo.
|Recreational release dates
recreational flow releases on the Tongariro River result in an increase
in flow and water level on sections of the Tongariro river on specific
days once or twice a year.
The increased amount of water in the river can
bring large numbers of trout from the lake into the river to spawn.
Genesis Energy's environmental news for:
- Tongariro Power Scheme Recreational Release
- News of any other impact of the Tongariro
Power Scheme on river flows
is a versatile river offering stalking of large brown trout in the
lower reaches during the warmer months, fly fishing at the delta,
river-run rainbows and browns in the autumn and winter, and an excellent
evening rise in summer. Although there is good fishing throughout
the year, it is the migratory runs of fish upstream in late autumn
and winter that attract most anglers.
The Pools of the Tongariro
The river is a mixture of deep pools, long runs
and boisterous rapids. During the popular winter fishing season,
most anglers prefer to fish the pools and runs where fish often
rest as they move upstream to reach the spawning beds. While
the major pools and sections of the river are named, these can change
quickly after a flood causing maps to become out of date.
For ratings of the Tongariro River pools based
on feedback from anglers, see Tongariro
The Tongariro is extremely popular when and so
it is vital to be aware of the fishing
etiquette that applies.
is the major spawning river for the Taupo catchment with around
a third of all the spawning fish migrating up the Tongariro system.
These number in the tens of thousands of fish every year.
When the runs occur
The runs are spread out between April and November
with the main rainbow runs tending to be be at the end of winter
between late July and September.
When to fish
Runs are stimulated by rain and cooler water
temperatures. The best time to fish tends to be as the river starts
to clear after a heavy rain though migratory runs can happen at
any time. When the large runs happen the numbers of fish entering
the system can be measured in the thousands.
The delta of
the Tongariro River presently has two mouths facing in different
directions. Big, well-conditioned deep-water trout reside in the
Note: This area changes
year by year as floods alter the way the river enters the lake.
In the past there have been a number of different mouths to this
river and no doubt they will continue to change in the future.
When to fish
While this area fishes well, it is not best suited
to fishing in bright sunshine. At night, the fishing is best in
dark conditions rather than on a moonlit night.
Boat fishing: Most
anglers fish the delta from a well-anchored boat (often using an
anchor both fore and aft) and using a deeply sunk lure that is slowly
retrieved close to the bottom. You must identify the rip so you
can position the boat in the centre of the current on the edge of
the sandy lip where it drops away into deep water. The best fishing
is to be had by fishing lures up the steep drop-off and that requires
the boat to be anchored just on the edge of the channel formed by
the rip. As the bottom is very soft and the channel edge drops
steeply into very deep water, wading is not recommended.
Heave and leave:
A newly popular method, known as "heave and leave" requires
casting a sinking line with a Globug
that has some suspension tied into it so that the Globug floats
just above the lake bottom. Once cast out, the lure is left and
hopefully a passing trout will pick it up and run with it.
The only way to access the delta is by boat as
no roads and tracks lead to it. See the local access
The lower reaches
extends from the delta up to the Bridge Pool at the southern outskirts
The lower section of the river is less attractive
than the middle and upper reaches. The pools are less well defined
in the last few kilometres before the river enters the lake which
means there are fewer holding places for the fish.
Most fish that enter the river move quickly through
the lower reaches or take shelter behind the many fallen trees and
logs. Casting can be difficult as the vegetation can grows close
to the river.
However the Lower Bridge Pool is one of the most
productive pools in the river and popular due to the drive-in access,
easy wading and close proximity to other town pools. Below the Lower
Bridge Pool is a pool ideal for nymphing that has replaced the Swirl
Pool, which is now a quiet back water.
Access for most anglers is to cross over at the
tail of the Bridge Pool car park area but perhaps the easier access
is from the track between the Bridge Pool and the Swirl Pool. The
Swirl Pool is now so silted up and shallow it can be easily crossed
over most of its length.
Both wetlining and nymphs work in this section.
The easiest fishing are in the pools nearest the bridge however,
as the underwater obstacles and close bankside vegetation can make
fishing more difficult in the lower pools.
The pools below the bridge on State Highway 1
can be reached by car in some cases though the waters closest to
the delta can only be reached by walking or from a boat. Boats are
allowed upstream only as far as the Downs Pool about 4.5kms from
the mouth. The track to Delatours Pool is very rough. See the local
Judges Pool to the Red Hut Bridge
From Judges Pool
to the Red Hut Bridge
The middle reaches between Judges Pool and the
Red Hut Bridge have many of the most productive and popular pools
including the Major Jones and the Hydro Pool. Being located within
easy access to the township, these pools receive very heavy angling
pressure especially during the main spawning runs. There are often
queues of anglers wanting to get onto some stretches. Trout tend
to rest in the pools as they make their way upstream and when a
good run of trout move through the fishing can be spectacular.
The variety of pools offers a range of angling
options though nymphing remains the most popular. Some pools do
respond well to wetlining and it is not uncommon to see both methods
being fished in one pool. Consequently, the rules outlined in fishing
etiquette must be followed if tempers are not to flair.
Wading is easy in many areas though anglers should
take care as the river is more powerful than it at first appears.
State Highway 1 runs through Turangi and alongside
the Tongariro River as far as the Red Hut Pool and bridge. At this
point the road follows the Poutu Stream but there is walking access
to the majority of pools with good walking tracks following the
river on both banks for most of its length. The pools that are furtherest
upstream and open to winter fishing can be reached only on foot
but it is an easy walk. See the local access
Red Hut Pool to the Fence Pool
From Red Hut
Pool to the Fence Pool (Winter Fishing Limit)
The middle reaches from the Red Hut Bridge to
the Fence Pool (which is at the limit for winter fishing) offer
a wide variety of water. The water often flows over a rocky bed
and has a number of rapids and runs. Pools are very deep in places
and the trout that can be seen always seem just out of casting range.
Most of the pools in the middle reaches are
accessed via a small side road that leads off SH1 directly after
crossing the Pouto Stream. This road (really just a track) branches
in several places giving access to the Boulder Reach, Boulder Pool
and Blue Pool. To reach the last two major pools - the Sand Pool
and the Fence Pool - requires a short walk along a well-maintained
track. See the local access
The upper reaches
of the Tongariro extend from above the Fence Pool to the headwaters.
The upper reaches above the winter fishing limit
offer excellent fishing from December through to the end of May.
The river is a series of runs, rapids and deep pools with anglers
able to spot fish in the generally very clear water. The scenery
is stunning and as few anglers venture into this area can provide
excellent wilderness fishing (though anglers will often be sharing
the river with rafters and kayakers). In April and May there can
even be some early runs of large spawning fish though most fishing
is for the high population of resident trout that reach some very
The upper reaches can be fished with nymphs
and wet flies, and in the warmer months there can be a very good
As the upper reaches run through a very steep-sided
gorge for much of its length, there is very limited vehicle access
and the recommended alternative to a difficult tramp is to take
one of the rafts that are set up to ferry anglers downstream from
below the hydro power dam to the best fishing spots.
A rafting trip
is usually best done over at least two days to enable a group of
anglers to access the best waters and to fish the morning and evening
rises. See the local access
Fishing the largely inaccessible gorge with Tongariro Raft Fishing Adventures
|Fish numbers and size
||Rainbow and brown trout averaging
around 2kg but going up to 7kg or 15lb in weight make their spawning
migration up the river during the winter months of April to November.
There is also a very good population of resident fish that stay in
the river throughout the year, some of which reach good sizes.
||With both wet fly and nymph fishing
during the spawning runs, the key is to get your fly close to the
bottom as the fish will not rise far to take it. During the summer
trout can be nearer the surface and do rise more freely so adjust
your method accordingly.
- A 8 or 9 weight rod, preferably with a fast
action capable of shooting a line out some distance
- A floating line.
- One very heavily weighted nymph with either
one or two lighter nymphs tied between 30 to 50 cms below it.
- A large highly visible indicator tied where
the leader joins the flyline.
- A 10 foot plus leader with a 3kg or stronger
For wetfly fishing:
- An 8 or 9 weight rod that is very responsive
- A fast sinking line. The flyline needs to
be very fast sinking to ensure the fly gets down through the powerful
- A short tippet of 2-2.5 metres or even shorter with a breaking strain
not less than 3.5kg.
Hare and Copper, Pheasant
and caddis patterns
such as the Horn Caddis
on the rivers during the spawning season.
Dry flies: Daddy
Long Legs and Coch-y-Bondu.
Cicada patterns and
Night time: Black
Night Time, Fuzzy
Day time: Hamills'
Killer, Mrs Simpson,
Red Setter, Parson's
March Brown, Dollfly
- Waipakahi River
- Whitikau Stream (closed to fishing)
||Tongariro River from the mouth to
the Fence Pool aproximately 350 metres above the confluence with the
fishery area regulations
Fly fishing only.
Boat fishing from an anchored boat is permitted
between the mouth and Downs Pool. No boat fishing upstream of Downs
|Size limit (cm)
||35 cm minimum
||Tongariro River upstream of the Poutu
fishery area regulations
Dec-30 Jun: Upstream of Poutu intake except the area mentioned below.
1 Oct-31 May: Between Poutu intake and the landmark
that is 500 metres upstream of the confluence with the Whitikau
stream, including tributaries.
No boat fishing.
|Size limit (cm)
||35 cm minimum