The North Island of New Zealand serves up a plentiful array of fisheries. The first thing you will notice when visiting the North Island are the fascinating volcanic lakes and the diverse abundance of small streams and rivers. The North Island is not has mountainous as the South Island, but there are still a multitude of mountain ranges and large catchments that rise high in remote areas where wild populations of trout thrive.
The North Island is renowned for high numbers of Rainbow Trout. All major fisheries at a regional level would carry a greater percentage of Rainbow Trout than Brown Trout in the North Island. Brown Trout can certainly be targeted though. A number of streams and rivers would be Brown Trout only fisheries for a variety of natural reasons.
The season starts 1st October and, depending on what region you are in, the season ends either the end of April, May or June. The trout fishing season allows more water bodies to choose from, but there is plenty of accessible water all year round.
Best time to go
The North Island provides great all year round fishing and really depends what you want to achieve as an angler. Dry fly fishing is good December to March. Backcountry adventurers will prefer the season months of October to June where these areas are accessible. Winter fishing the spawning runs in Taupo and Rotorua (May to September) provides great sport. Browse our winter fly fishing page to learn more about this opportunity.
There are a multitude of lakes to choose from in the North Island some of which are very deep. In the Summer, you will find trout (especially Rainbow Trout) to be more concentrated in the deep along drop-offs where the cooler water is. However, dry fly fishing provides great sport in the Summer months (December to March) especially during an evening rise.
The Autumn and Winter months will see more trout cruising along the lake edges looking for food. Characteristics of fly fishing lakes in the North Island is fishing deep, where necessary, using a fast sinking line or targeting river mouths as large groups of spawning trout build up getting ready to run upstream.
When Rainbow Trout were imported and released in New Zealand a high percentage was Steelhead stock that is commonly found in the USA. This stock thrived in the North Island and in the large lake systems found in Taupo and Rotorua. As a result spawning runs provide fantastic sport in the winter months (May to September)..
Resident fish in the lake tributaries can still be targeted in the Summer months (December to March) but you will find the occasional winter running fish to be ‘spent’ and not in the best condition at this time.
Superb backcountry fishing can be found in the North Island that is also accessible from Rotorua and Taupo. In particular, magnificent water can be found in the ranges surrounding Hawkes Bay. You can expect high water quality and high average sizes for both rainbow and brown trout. In fact, being able to successfully access both species in most rivers adds to the excitement of fishing in the North Island. Taupo is highly proximate to Hawkes Bay and you will find fly fishing guides based in Taupo that will take clients into Hawkes Bay backcountry areas.
There would be no significant difference in the type of techniques used in the North Island when compared to the South Island. The popular New Zealand methods of nymphing and dry fly fishing still apply with wet fly fishing being productive also. There are notable nuances such as using heavy ‘bomb-like’ flies to get to the bottom of deep swift moving rivers where spawning fish lie, or using shooting heads to get further casts around river mouths in lakes.
Best places to go
Browse destinations below to learn more about fly fishing in the North Island or contact us to start planning your adventure.