There is no doubt that Lake Taupo and its tributaries
is one of the world's premier fishing destinations. From the late
1800s to the present day, Lake Taupo and the tributary rivers such
as the Tongariro, Tauranga-Taupo and Waitahanui, provide anglers
of all levels and skill the chance to capture a fish of a lifetime.
That much of this region is open all year is an added bonus. Some
areas are closed during the winter however and it is important to
check the regulations before fishing any water in this region.
Lake Taupo itself provides excellent boat fishing
and shoreline fishing throughout the year. All the rivers hold resident
populations of both brown and rainbow trout and in the winter months
there are huge spawning runs occur with literally tens of thousands
of fish moving up the rivers to spawn. Many regard this as the prime
time to fish this region.
Turangi claims the title of the trout fishing
capital of the world and with over 30 rivers within an hour's drive,
the choice of fishing water is huge.
What is special about this region
Lake Taupo is a large, very clean cold lake that
provides excellent habitat for a huge population of both brown and
rainbow trout. A number of large rivers feeding the lake are major
spawning waters for mature fish each winter. In this region the
numbers of fish caught each year number in the many many thousands
and during a good season will average well over 2 kg. Trophy sized
fish of over 4.5 kg or 10 pounds are regularly caught.
Summer (January to March)
In the summer months from January to March, the fish on the
lake tend to go deeper during the day to avoid the hot bright weather.
Most are caught by trolling a deeply sunk lure. During the evenings
there can be an excellent rise on some of the rivers and on a dark
night, any small stream or river mouth can provide excellent and
exciting fishing as the large fish come close to shore.
During the summer, there is great boat fishing
Taupo and superb dry fly fishing in the many rivers and streams
of the central North Island region. Mid November to end of
March is the best time for dry fly fishing on the evening rise,
while in February the cicada hatch makes for good fishing.
Autumn (April to June)
In the autumn the fish start to congregate around
the river mouths preparing for the spawning runs. While the fish
can be caught from a boat using almost any legal method, there is
excellent shoreline fishing especially around stream mouths around
Winter (July to September)
During the winter months huge numbers of large trout enter
all the rivers and make their way upstream to spawn. This is the
premier fishing time for the region as trout that enter the rivers
are in prime condition. July to September are traditionally the
best months for spawning runs and are usually the busiest months
with the most anglers on the waters. In recent years October has
been very good too as spawning runs become more spread out.
Fly fishing the eastern tributaries such as the
mostly for rainbow trout, provides the fishing challenge. These
rivers are very popular and, if you are to enjoy your fishing there,
it is vital to be aware of the fishing
etiquette that applies.
Note that the upper parts of the rivers are closed
from 1st June to 30th November to protect the trout while they are
Spring (October to December).
In the spring there is excellent shoreline fishing
and river fishing. The main food of the trout in the lake is a small
fish known as a smelt. The smelt spawn along the lake shore from
October onwards and a large trout will often come in very close
chasing them. There can be excellent shoreline and boat fishing
at this time. There is also excellent nymph and dry fly fishing
for resident fish within the river particularly late and spring
For any angler wishing to catch a fish, the surest
method is by trolling on the lake. There are a number of charter
boats and guides available that know where to go and how to put
clients onto fish.
Anglers visiting New Zealand during the winter
months (May to September) will find exciting fishing on the rivers
that feed the Lake Taupo. The rivers are fly fishing only and during
the winter months anglers will need heavy equipment to ensure their
flies (whether these be nymphs or wet flies) get down quickly through
the very strong current. And it is also important to note that not
all waters are open during the winter months. Be sure to check the
regulations before fishing.
During the warmer months (October to April),
anglers are spoilt for choice. There is literally something to suit
every level of ability and style of fishing. Guides are recommended
for those people wishing to get into wilderness and back country
fishing as there are a number of high-quality waters off the beaten
track that require local expertise and knowledge to get to.
Do not forget some of the other lakes in the
district such as Lakes Kuratau, Otamangakau and Rotoaira which have
their own special characteristics and charm. These lakes are often
much less crowded than Lake Taupo but still provide fishing of the
highest quality. Lakes Otamangakau and Rotoaira were both chosen
as venues for the 2008 World Fly Fishing Championships while Kuratau
was chosen for the 2009 Oceania Fly Fishing Championship competition.
are taught to cast a flyrod and catch a trout at the Children's
Fishing Pond in Turangi on specific days between April and September.
Bookings are required.
The Taupo fishery area is managed by the Department
of Conservation (DOC).
A special licence is required to fish in the Taupo
region. (Fish & Game licences are not valid in the Taupo area).
A map showing the boundaries
of the Taupo fishing region is displayed on the DOC website.
Taupo fishing licences can be obtained from licence
agents in many North Island New Zealand towns and cities. A full
list of Taupo licence agents is available at the Department
of Conservation website. The licence is not valid unless made out
in your name and signed by you. You must carry it with you when
of all Taupo licences is also available at the Department of
Lake Rotoaira permit
A separate entry permit is required to fish Lake
Rotoaira. See Lake
Rotoaira for details.
Boat ramp permit
A current Lake Taupo boat ramp permit is required
before using public launching ramps on the lake, but is not needed
for lauching small craft from the beach. The permits are available
for a day, a week or a year from fishing licence sellers. Regular
checks are carried out at public boat ramps.
The regulations that apply to the Taupo district
are different to those that apply elsewhere and you must be aware
of them before you fish there. See Taupo
Because of the popularity of the Taupo/Turangi
fishery, the preferred fishing locations are very often shared with
other anglers. A common code of practice or fishing etiquette gives
everyone a reasonable oportunity fish and catch trout and avoids
conflict. See Fishing
Department of Conservation brochures
Copies of the following brochures can be requested
or picked up from DOC's Turangi office.
- Hooked: Releasing trout so they survive
- Trolling: Tips for boat fishing Lake Taupo
- Angling Manners: Understanding fishing in the
- Map of the Tongariro River
Deparment of Conservation contact details
Contact details are:
Taupo Fishery Area
Phone: +64 7 386 8607
Fax: +64 7 386 7086
Fishery Duty Officer: 027 290 7758
fishery pages at the DOC website