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Winter Fly Fishing in New Zealand

Heli-fishing at Poronui, luxury fishing lodge, New Zealand

Yes, it’s true – winter is on its way. But unlike northern climes where snow, ice and freezing temperatures can make winter fly fishing an ordeal, New Zealand’s North Island is blessed with a true maritime climate that moderates the weather and the temperatures through the cold season.

So much so that the fly fishing season remains open all year on the lakes and lower river reaches in some areas, and some of the fishing lodges also stay open year round. There is some excellent fishing over winter and, if you’re heading this way over the next few months, then add a few days in to your schedule for a fishing break. We know all the best spots and can get you there with easy connections, so your time isn’t spent waiting round in airports or highway delays.

One of our popular places, Tongariro Lodge, has this to say about the winter fishing in the central North Island – “In an average season 40-50,000-plus adult rainbow and brown trout migrate up the Tongariro River alone. The Lake Taupo fishery is the only area in New Zealand that remains open to fly fishermen all year. The lower sections of the tributary rivers and streams provide access to Taupo’s large run of wild winter steelhead. With five of these tributaries within a twenty minute drive of Tongariro Lodge you can understand what a great winter fishing destination it is.”

The fishing folk at Huka Lodge say, “Anglers come to the Tongariro to fish for spawning trout which run up the river from the lake over the colder winter months, both Rainbow and Brown trout frequent these waters and disappointments are rare.”


Poronui lounge fire
By the fire at Poronui


And if you’re not able to make it till spring then Poronui suggests, “October 1 is the opening of the fishing season [in all waters] in most districts and means the resident trout have been undisturbed for months. Temperatures are still cool, but with longer days the browns and rainbows become very active, and there is excellent fishing with weighted nymphs along soft seams in most mountain streams. Some good evening hatches, often resulting in very good dry fly fishing at dusk.”

These three top fishing lodges, plus Wildwood Lodge near Rotorua and River Birches in Turangi, all offer excellent options to base a winter fly fishing stay.

The head guide at Tui Lodge, a B&B fishing stay in Turangi explains, “This area is world renown for the winter runs of Rainbow and Brown trout up the Tongariro River and other smaller streams. These trout are in top condition and test your skills when trying to land these fish. When we have had rain and the river is clear, clients have some magic fly fishing. With your guides knowing the hot spots it is possible to hook up to 10 fish in a morning. Rainbows will run all year round but the main fishing is May to October.”

Overall, availability of accommodation and guides is easier to find in winter, and you get the bonus option of some winter hiking or skiing as well. The Taupo-Turangi area is a fantastic place to base a New Zealand fishing stay in winter. Just make sure you bring a few layers of thermal clothing to put under your waders, and your camera to catch the beauty of this mountainous region in winter.

Email us to find out more about booking a winter fishing trip in New Zealand.

(C)  by Sue Farley    New Zealand Fishing Lodges