With trout season opening on the 1st of October, we thought we’d give you 12 great reasons to pack up your family AND your fishing gear and head to Rotorua.
From the highest catch rates to the biggest fish, the most remote to the family-friendly spots, you’ll find 11 of our region’s best lakes for fishing featured below. But that’s not all Rotorua has to offer anglers young and old. As well lakes, we have a number of excellent rivers and streams, plus one spot where the kids are guaranteed a catch!
1. Lake RotoruaLake Rotorua has everything going for it. It’s the largest lake in the district; it’s only five minutes' walk from the city centre; there’s extensive public shore access, including seven boat ramps; it’s open year round; and it’s one of the easiest lakes in New Zealand to catch rainbow and brown trout from, with one of the highest catch rates in the district. You can’t go wrong!
2. Lake RotoitiLake Rotoiti, the third largest lake in our region, consistently produces trophy trout throughout the year. Thousands of fish are released into the lake each year and when combined with the wild fish population ensures that brown and rainbow trout stocks are very high. Trout in this lake consistently reach impressive sizes as there is an abundant food for them.
Lake Rotoiti has five boat ramps that provide access to all points of the lake, and shoreline fishing from Tapuaekura Bay stream mouth through to the Hinehopu landmark remains open after June 30 when the rest of the lakes closes to boat fishing.
3. Lake TikitapuBeing surrounded by forest and very sheltered, with a lovely beach, playground and public toilets, Lake Tikitapu is one of the best-known recreational lakes in the Rotorua district, and less than 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre.
The deep, clear lake offers easy fishing for rainbow trout from a boat, or along the shoreline by way of several beaches and small bays accessible from the 5.5km walking and mountain biking trail that circles the entire lake.
4. Lake ŌkārekaWithin 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre, you can be backing your boat onto the beautiful Lake Ōkāreka. Its name means “the lake of sweet food”, which is apt for a lake that keeps anglers happy with high numbers of good quality fish, especially the large population of rainbow trout that can be caught by a variety of fishing methods. It’s also a gentle lake so very suitable for family fishing.
Lake Ōkāreka is open year round and has a boat ramp at Acacia Bay. If you’re keen on mid-winter fishing, the annual Lake Ōkāreka fishing competition takes place in July. There are lots of prize categories, including spot prizes for children.
5. Lake TaraweraCruise & Fish Rotorua says one of the must-do experiences while in Rotorua is a trout fishing charter or a cruise on Lake Tarawera to famous Te Rata Bay and its hot water springs and beaches. Not only is a relaxing soak on Hot Water Beach a treat, but the beach is also perfect for cooking your fresh catch!
Tarawera is deep and clear, and world renowned for the quality of its rainbow trout averaging 2kg but an impressive number of very large rainbow trout are caught here too, many of which reach or exceed the magical 10-pound (4.5 kg) mark.
6. Lake OkaroOkaro is a small picturesque lake ideal for small boats and other watercraft, and offers good shoreline fishing using both fly and spinner. Rainbow trout are in good numbers and average 1kg. It’s best fished in winter when algal blooms are less likely.
There is a boat ramp suitable for small vessels with a picnic area and public toilets at a reserve off Okaro Road, off State Highway 38.
7. Lake ŌkatainaThe pristine beauty of Lake Okataina offers a scenic wilderness experience for anglers. The remote valley surrounded by pristine virgin native forest makes fishing in this pristine setting very special.
The clear water provides an abundance of food that ensures the fish reach very impressive sizes (read: trophy!). In fact, the rainbow trout here are renowned for putting up a good fight, so you might want to double up on your Weet-Bix the morning of your fishing trip!
8. Lake RotomaLake Rotoma is a beautiful, deep, crystal-clear lake that provides excellent fishing for a large stock of rainbow trout. It also holds the rare tiger trout, a cross between a brook and brown trout.
Trolling is the most popular method for fishing this lake although jigging has also become a very popular and effective method of taking trout when they are lying deep in the lake.
9. Lake RotoehuLake Rotoehu, as well as Rotoma, provides a great spot for those wanting to get away from the crowds.
Rotoehu is made up of a number of sheltered arms that can only be reached by boat. These bays provide great shelter from any wind and it is rare that an angler cannot find a place to fish in relatively calm water.
Being shallower than many of the surrounding lakes in the area, Rotoehu provides good fly fishing throughout the day with fish often feeding very close to the shoreline. It’s also an ideal lake for fly fishing from a boat.
10. Lake RotomahanaAnother remote lake, Rotomahana is definitely worth the extra effort to get there for the scenery, solitude and catches of solid, hard-fighting rainbows averaging 1.5kg.
Fly fishing down the drop-off or over the weed beds is productive, and a very popular boat-fly fishing location can be found where the Waingongona Stream (spawning stream) enters the bay.
Access is via sign-posted gravel roads through pine forests off Waimangu Road. A forest access permit is required; visit the Eastern Fish & Game website for up-to-date forest access and permit information.
11. Lake RerewhakaaituLake Rerewhakaaitu, a relatively shallow lake, attracts shore-based anglers targeting the large stock of rainbow trout which can be seen cruising the long shoreline. The excellent food source in the lake means that the fish are aggressive and hard fighting.
Conditions can be windy as Rerewhakaaitu is mostly surrounded by flat land.
12. Rivers and streamsA number of rivers and streams – many right in the city – provide great fishing.
The Utuhina Stream runs through the city from the southwest corner and into Lake Rotorua and provide year-round fishing opportunities. There is excellent public access via council reserves.
The Ngongotahā Stream, which feeds into Lake Rotorua through Ngongotahā village, also provides year-round fishing opportunities from the mouth up to the State Highway 5 bridge at the Agrodrome. Access is kindly provided by the local Ngāti Whakaue. This section is open to both fly and spin anglers.
A few minutes’ drive north, the Waiteti Stream is open year round from the mouth up to the bridge in the middle of town. This section is open to both fly and spin anglers.
Both Ngongotahā and Waiteti streams produce quality sight fishing when clean, as they are both spring creeks, and carry rainbows that average 1.5kg, and brown trout that average 3-3.5kg.
Upstream from these points on both Ngongotahā and Waiteti streams are open from the 1st of December through to the 31st of June to fly-only anglers.
The Awahou and Hamurana Stream mouths excel during the hottest summer months.
The Ohau Channel links lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti and is open for fly fishing from October until the end of June. In spring and early summer smelt run through the channel followed by large numbers of hungry trout.
The Kaituna River is not only world-famous for whitewater rafting but also for its trout fishing.
Last but certainly not least is a location perfect for families. At Ngongotahā Trout Hatchery, children 6-14 years old can learn to fly fish and catch a rainbow trout on specified days from July to November. Admission is only $3 per child (bookings required) and they’re 100% guaranteed to land a fish – a great way to get them hooked on this awesome pastime!