New Zealand is a great place for trout fishing. We have low angler pressure, cheap access, good water quality, large trout and tons of places to choose from.
On many rivers you will be unlikely to see another angler. Certain places can get quite crowded such as the Tongariro during the spawning runs or the Rotorua lakes around opening day. But it’s always possible to find rivers and lakes that see few anglers. This is particularly true if you’re able to fish during the week days.
New Zealand has a system where anyone is allowed to fish in any river or lake. You just have to pay for a license which costs around $90 for the Taupo area and $92 for the rest of the country. Generally land owners allow access across their land for people to go fishing. Many good rivers lie inside reserves like National parks or Forest Parks. So there are no exorbitant fees being charged for access to the best water.
There are also rivers and lakes that are hard to access but this is due to natural barriers. Remote streams that flow through mountainous regions offer some of the best and most scenic fishing, getting to these places often requires either a long hike or a helicopter trip. Rafts are also used on some rivers. Trips to these areas add a whole extra dimension to the fishing experience. Wilderness areas are just magic places to be.
Good Water Quality
Most New Zealand rivers have very good water quality in the upper and middle reaches. Further downstream some rivers become quite polluted due to farming. Rivers up in the mountains in areas with a lot of rock and tussock are particularly clear.
I’ve had quite a surprise on some occasions when I’ve stepped into water up to my chest when it only looked to be thigh deep. This clear water is a blessing as it makes it easy to spot fish but it’s also a curse as the fish can be easily disturbed by a poor approach or misplaced cast.
In most rivers and lakes you’ll find the trout tend to fall into the 2-6 pound range. There are many places where that elusive 10 pounder is on the cards. The Rangitikei and Ruakituri are two rivers that are renowned for trophy trout.
The Rotorua lakes also offer a very good chance, they contain a different strain of trout that breed later than most and so grow to larger sizes.
An abundance of rivers and lakes
New Zealand receives quite a high rain fall, particularly in the mountains and hills where most rivers start. This fact combined with the often complex topography means that there are a large number of lakes and rivers for the size of the country.
So with a few exceptions you’ll have many choices close at hand no matter where you are in the country. Some of the best areas in the North Island are the king country, Rotorua, Taupo, Kaimanawas and Ureweras. In the south island Kahurangi National Park, the whole west coast, fiordland and south land are good places to start.