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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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“Anglers' Eldorado” was the name tagged to New Zealand in the late 1920s by Zane Grey, one of the world's best fishermen. The name still applies to the Dominion so far as rainbow and brown trout fishing are concerned. From thousands of miles of fishing waters–lake, stream, river, and dam–the average weight for rainbow trout is 3 lb, and for brown trout, 3 lb 8 oz. Small wonder that almost 200,000 anglers paid a modest licence fee in New Zealand in the 1962–63 fishing season. There is no trout fishing to speak of above the Waikato district in the North Island, although one river, the Kaihu, does carry rainbow trout averaging 2 lb. The Rotorua Fishing District, which embraces Rotorua, Waikaremoana, and Gisborne fishing waters, is probably the finest freshwater fishing area in New Zealand. The average weight for this vast region is 4 lb 8 oz.

Famous fishing waters in the Rotorua district include Hamurana Springs, Ngongotaha, Waiowhiro, and Utahina Streams, and the Ohau Channel, all entering Lake Rotorua. Great fishing lakes in this area are Okataina, Tarawera, Rotoiti, Rotoma, and Rerewhakaaitu. In the Waikaremoana section Lakes Tuai and Kaitawa have an almost incredible average weight of about 9 lb both for rainbow and for brown trout. Good fishing is to be had in the Rangitaiki River and its tributaries.

Although conditions and access are much more difficult in the Gisborne–Northern Hawke's Bay section, fine fishing is available in the Motu, Waikare-Taheke, Ruakituri, Waitahaia, Mohaka, and Waingakia Rivers. Part of the upper Waikato River system lies in the Rotorua Fishing District. This includes Lakes Aratiatia, Ohakuri, Atiamuri, Whakamaru, and Maraetai, the result of man-made dams in a series of hydro-electric generating stations superimposed on the old Waikato River fishery. These dams or lakes offer steadily improving fishing, both for rainbow and for brown trout, and many local fishermen believe that some of the best fishing in New Zealand will be found here in a few years.

The Taupo Fishing District–which is centred on Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake–is world famous for its fighting rainbow trout, the aggregate catch on rod and line reaching a remarkable 1,000 tons a year of brown and rainbow trout. Good fishing is nearly always obtainable somewhere on the lake itself and fine catches may be had by fishing the river and stream mouths and trolling or casting from the shore.

Most famous of all New Zealand fishing waters, the Tongariro River enters Lake Taupo near Turangi. This was the scene of Zane Grey's many thrilling battles with big rainbow trout and he devoted a large section of his popular book Anglers' Eldorado to this fine water. Other good fishing may be obtained in the Waitotaka and Waimarino Rivers and in the Tauranga-Taupo, Hatepe, Waitahanui, and Waikato Rivers. The Western Bays waters of Lake Taupo and the Waihaha, Waihora, Whanganui, Kuratau, and Whareroa Rivers and streams contain heavy stocks of rainbow trout which average 3¼ lb.

The Waimarino Stream is the gem of the Waimarino Acclimatisation Society's district. It is a dry-fly water and carries brown trout averaging just over 4 lb. Another good fishing water in this district is the Makatote, which contains many rainbow trout averaging 3 lb, and brown trout averaging 4 lb. The upper reaches of the Wanganui River offer brown and rainbow trout averaging 3 lb.

Nowhere in New Zealand has the angler a better choice of easily accessible water than in North Taranaki, where 20 recognised trout streams radiate in a fan pattern from the base of Mount Egmont and the Pouakai Range. These waters are outstanding for variety and ease of access. The Manganui River is the largest trout-carrying stream in Taranaki, its brown trout averaging 3 lb.

Auckland, Tauranga, Hawke's Bay, Stratford, Hawera, and Wellington Acclimatisation Society districts all have good fishing. The best, however, is found in the back country and only the fit and active angler can hope to gain access to these waters.


Cyril Thomas Bunt, formerly Journalist, Information and Press Section, Tourist and Publicity Department.