Jul 20th, 2016
It was scarcely more than an experiment. One fateful day in late 1883, Malcolm Ross’ wife Forrest knelt along the bank of the upper Tongariro and released a small bucket of fingerlings. Back then, no one even fantasized that these tiny Sonoma Creek steelhead would produce one of the world’s most prolific rainbow fisheries. Today the Lake Taupo fishery is estimated to hold over one million fish averaging four pounds. And more remarkably, its prime tributary, the Tongariro, hosts 70 percent of the system’s annual spawning migration. It is no coincidence that legendary New Zealand outfitter and angler Tony Hayes built his lodge on the banks of this remarkable system.
Even more notable is that the mighty Tongariro is just the beginning of what makes the North Island’s angling experience so spectacular. With superb heli-fishing, adventuresome backcountry angling, and over thirty fishable rivers — many of which are chock-full of large, feisty rainbows — this area yields some of New Zealand’s most impressive specimens and catch rates.
Guests at Tongariro Lodge enjoy well-appointed cabins with private bathrooms. Fine cuisine is served in the main lodge. With horseback riding, hiking, rafting, golf and natural hot pools, you will see why we consider this lodge a must for anglers and non-anglers alike.
See Full Trip Details:
Tongariro Lodge, New Zealand
For More Information call Brian Gies: 800-552-2729
Expert Interview with Brian Gies
1. Hands down the best value luxury fishing lodge in New Zealand.
2. A great mix of drive to fishing, heli fishing and raft fishing.
3. Lots of rainbows that make for a relatively high catch rate user friendly experience.
4. Multiple overnight back-country options for the adventurous angler.
5. The lodge location gives guests great access to additional outdoor activities.
Where is the lodge?
The lodge is about 45 minutes south of Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand.
How do I get there?
Most commercial flights depart the west coast in the evening and arrive Auckland in the morning. From Auckland it is just a short flight to Taupo and then a 45 minute transfer to the lodge.
When should I go?
The prime season is November – March and it is hard to pick a bad time in that window. Those looking to see fewer people should concentrate on November and early December. If you are looking for the best dry fly fishing it is typically January and February.
Where do they fish?
Multiple rivers in the greater Taupo region accessed via 4wd, helicopter and raft
Are Fly Outs Included?
No. Helicopter time (if used) is added to the trip and paid on-site.
How do we decide where to fish each day?
Each day your guide will make recommendations on what he thinks the best options will be. Our ultimate week itinerary would be as follows.
Day 1: The fishing will start taking a 4wd to one of Tongariro’s private access rivers. This is a high numbers stream with eager mid-sized rainbows that will welcome you to the country.
Day 2: Raft the upper reaches of the Tongariro River. This is a white water wilderness stream with good numbers of hot, healthy rainbows.
Day 3 and 4: After two warm up days on rivers with mid-sized fish, fly in to one of Tongariro’s back-county gems. This is a trophy section of river where the fish average seven pounds. This is an overnight trip using a very basic back-country hut for shelter. The pilot will drop off the anglers, guide and all food and equipment for two days at the hut. The first day will be spent walking downstream then fishing back up to the hut. The evening will be spent around the campfire complete with a hearty meal and New Zealand wine. The second day will be spent fishing upstream from the hut. At the end of the day the helicopter will drop into the valley to pick you up for a spectacular ride back to the lodge.
Day 5: 4wd into a hidden bush-clad stream in the nearby area and spend the day walking and presenting dry flies to large resident rainbows and browns.
Day 6: Your time at Tongariro will finish with another helicopter flight out to a small and relatively arid trophy trout stream.
Who is best suited to the destination?
Anglers who like high catch rates and a great value are perfect for Tongariro. It is also a great destination for travelers that enjoy a wide range of outdoors activities.
What are the accommodations and meals like?
Tongariro is a mid-sized luxury property with a wide range of one bedroom chalets and multi room villas. The property can take as many as 100 guests but typically there are less than 50 guests at any given time. They limit the number of angers to 12 per week. Gourmet meals are served at the main lodge and often feature wild game from the region.
Describe the atmosphere and style of the lodge:
As with most luxury fishing lodges in New Zealand the atmosphere and dress code is relaxed. Due to the size of the operation and the diverse interests of their guests, this operation has a feel that is different than a small fishing lodge, but most often the anglers find one another and make the experience more intimate.
Is the owner on site? If so who is it, if not who is the manager?
Their will always be a manager or friendly staff member close at hand but we recommend that anglers turn also to their guide to help them with anything they might need.
Is there internet and cell service?
How do they fish?
90% of the fishing is sight fishing while wading small freestone streams and spring creeks.
What fish will I catch?
Rainbows and browns.
How many fish will I catch?
In general New Zealand is a quality over quantity fishery. The average fish size is 3-4 lbs and most anglers have opportunities at even larger trout. Landing 3-5 fish should be considered a great day. That said, the fisheries around Tongariro tend to have more rainbows than browns often making for higher than average catch rates.
Will we see other anglers?
Very rarely. If you do your guide will find another location.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, almost exclusively.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
From 15 minutes to 1.5 hours.
What are the guides like?
Tongariro has a senior staff of hard working affable guides. They are hearty, quick to laugh and very safe on the water and in the back-country.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Yes. They have everything from waders and boots to rods and reels. Even if you bring your own equipment the guides always supply flies.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
A fast action 9 ft. 5 wt.
Are there other activities?
Yes. If you don’t want to fish there is great hiking (including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing), white water rafting, biking, golf, tennis and sight seeing.
What are the physical demands?
Anglers should be prepared to walk two to five miles per day.
Are there special skills required?
Although it is not necessary to make long casts, accuracy can make or break your day. We find most casts are easily within anglers distance ability but making a perfect 40 foot cast while looking at a trophy fish can be challenging.
Dangers and annoyances / heath concerns?
One of the great things about New Zealand is that it is a wonderfully safe place to travel. The biggest annoyance is typically sand flies.