New Zealand report

Sorry to rub it in your faces, but I spent the last two weeks in the beautiful summer sun of my childhood home, New Zealand. Sadly I only got one day of fishing in, but it was a pretty brilliant day. A friend took me out on one of his local rivers, the Maraewhenua, which drains the north side of Dansy's Pass into the Waitaki, in North Otago. We fished one of the forks; small, wadeable, crystal clear water.

We ended up fishing about eight nice pools, and all of them but one had at least one BIG rainbow in it. My first pool was probably the trickiest, with willows dangling down, and the upstream approach forcing me to cast backhand under a low willow branch. My target was a rising rainbow, feeding just at the downstream end of the pool, right where the water started to break into a ripple. After what seemed like an endless succession of dud casts, I finally put the dry fly just where I wanted it, and BAM!, the fish took it. I tried to set the hook, but I think I had too much slack, and it spat the dummy. In all the commotion, my buddy stepped on his girlfriends rod and snapped a section. D'oh! With that kind of initial luck, we knew we'd better land a fish to make the trip worthwhile.

We ended up trading hole for hole with the one surviving rod. Let me tell you, I finally understand what it means to stalk a fish. I guess they dont get to be 4 pounds or more by being stupid. The clear water made it pretty easy for them to see us, I guess, as we managed to spook the next few fish we came across.

One large, shallowish pool had a particularly wiley old trout in it. He saw us alright, and just kept cruising around, feeding mainly off the bottom, but rising a couple of times. After some brilliant casting, delicately placing the fly just above its nose, but to no avail, my friend decided to switch flies. The new fly (don't ask, I have no idea what any of them were called) did the trick, though, and with a quick slurp it was taken. Sadly, with an even quicker spit, the old fish was free again.

More holes, more spooking, until finally, I spotted a fish feeding quite happily at the surface right where the current made a little riffle on the top of a deep pool by a cliff face. It was my buddy's hole and he was closer to the water and couldn't see the fish from his angle. I guided his casting, and after three attempts he got it right in sweet spot, and BAM, it was taken and set. I grabbed the net and waded, nearly swam, across to his bank. This fish was strong and played hard to get, but luckily didn't rush out of the pool. It headed deep, and was played hard for a good couple of minutes at least, before tiring a little. My friend managed to inch it over to the shallows and I crept up with the net and secured our prize; a gorgeous rainbow, at least five pounds.

The next part of the story might piss some of you off, but what the hell, I'll tell it anyway. We got the fish up on dry land and bonked it good and hard with a nice wee purpose-turned knocker - a quick and hopefully painless death. I would never kill a fish like that up here in Washington, but in New Zealand, they're introduced and are in competition with the native freshwater fish. Given the health of the population we saw, and the apparent lack of fishing pressure on this fork, I don't have any regrets.

The final notable event of the trip was in the last hole on the way back out where I was fishing a nymph to another nice big rainbow. All of a sudden a long black shape darted across the pool towards my fly - a three foot eel! There I was, in my bare legs with a huge eel swimming around the pool, half petrified and half wanting it to take my fly, just for the fun of briefly playing such a huge fish. No such luck, though.

Anyway, we got the fish back to his house in time for a late lunch, and with a delicious offering like that, even his girlfriend could begrudge him breaking her rod.
Good report Boyd! Thanks for sharing. I would love to cast a fly in New Zealand but unfortunately I'll probably only get the chance if I win the Power Ball.:p I've read that all the waters in New Zealand are public. Is that so?
As far as I understand, along the margins of lakes, rivers and the ocean there are actually legal public (but paper) roads. You might not find it easy to get to some water, if you have to cross private land to get there, but once there, you're in public space.
The Maerewhenua River is one of my local streams, and the population is actually quite fragile and ALL fish should be returned. Especially up in the forks. The growth rate in those small streams isn't very fast and they sometimes suffer from low river levels and high temperatures. There are plenty of easy to catch and lovely tasting trout in the Waitaki River which the Maerewhenua feeds into if you want a feed.
Also only about half of the river and lakes have what is known as a "Queens Chain" which is a 25yd wide strip of public land on either bank, but no-one really knows which waters do or don't!! Just ask at a nearby house and they will normally let you on.
Hey Guys.
I fished the south island last spring, - Upukerora,Eglington,Oreti,Waiau rivers among others, - and here's a few tips and observations:

-flies cost on average $1.85 US there, bringing your own into the country is fine. They will probably spray your waders at the airport but this is not a problem at all.
-the fish are incredibly smart as the water is gin clear - I had a 7 inch trout swim up to my flying ant pattern, follow it, nose it, then take off w/o it - smart bastard. "Fish stalking" is a common method to describe the fishing there.
-I did manage to land several large rainbows though mostly with nymphs as there was very little surface activity from the larger fish - could've been just my timing.
-much like steelhead here, the best fishing times are when the trout are running into the rives from the large lakes - research this.
-the scenerey is amazing
-the food ain't so great - spoiled by the international cuisine here in the US
What do you mean by "spraying your waders?" Like a spray to kill off any aquatic hitchhikers? Thanks for the report though, sounds like it would be the trip of a lifetime.
At the airport they actually take your waders and spray them in a bleach-like solution (they even put them in a plastic bag afterwards). They're having a problem w/ Didymo - "river snot" - which is an algae that was introduced into the country from abroad and is wreaking havoc in their river systems by choking them off. The fishing is still A1 and the scenery - you remember "Lord of the Rings"? It was filmed there...breathtaking.
I'm glad to hear that New Zealand is taking real steps to protect their fisheries by interdicting potential incoming carriers. I visited Argentina a couple of years ago and, wanting to fish (thought not my reason for visiting), I checked on regulations before going. I learned on an Argentine government web site that it is the law there that all boots and waders coming into the country must either be 1) new, or 2) treated with bleach before leaving your home country (the website described how to do this). By coincidence, I had just purchased new waders, so I treated my boots. Of course, no one asked, much less checked, when I arrived at the airport in Buenos Aires.


the oldest old guy
Going to be in NZ in late March April..Will be up in the Russell / Bay of Islands area for a week and then down to Hamilton on business then have 3 or 4 days to go to South Island, before having to be in Auckland.

Wondering best place for an old guy to fish with Guide and also please my wife. Maybe do a Float? Sounds like you need to crawl up to some of these holes.
any ideas?

Old Ned
The town of Gore in the South Island is nicknamed the "trout capital of the world" Lots of shops and guides. I wasn't able to make it down there but I hear that is where it's "At". I would look there first if your SI itnerary is wide open.

My $.02


the oldest old guy
tHANKS That is in the middle of the lower middle and I'll do some checking out of Inns etc..

will also be in the Whitsunday islands in Australia on the reef for a week.. prob staying on one of the islands.... My wife is making the arrangemnets but they all advertise great fishing...

leave in 4 weeks for 8 weeks, inclusing a 2 week cruise from Auckland to Sidney just before we head home.

Cashed in ten years of FF Miles and going First Clas... Man, what a deal

Thanks again..

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