www.aotearoa.dk / the journey

November 6th to December 12th 2004. 5 weeks in New Zealand - and only for fishing! Realized by a membership offer from Danmarks Sportsfiskerforbund (DSF) in cooperation with the travel agency MyPlanet.

Long before DSF published their offer in "Sportsfiskeren", we had actually planned a family holiday to NZ, but different circumstances changed this. The offer from DSF came just at the right moment, so in stead of family holiday it was 5 weeks of fishing together with my fishingpal Per from Kolding.

The trip had been booked almost a year ahead, and it was quite unreal, that at last it was time to go ...

 

The first aim was inshore fishing. We had heard many stories about the fantastic fishing for kahawai, kingfish, snapper and shark. We just had to give it a try.
We knew the season had hardly begun - but anyway.
The fish arrives with the hot water currents from the north, so the plan was to tear northwards to The Bay of Islands.
We found a campingsite in Russels, a small coastal town right in the middle of The Bay of Islands, and we fished from the rocks in Oneroa Bay and Waihihi Bay.

 

We had all the fancy fly- and spinning gear, but the locals had nothing but a shake of their heads left for that. The only thing that did work was bait-surfcasting with pilchards or peaces of mackerel or tuna. The ordinary spin- or flyfishing did not give us any contact with fish.
We also had to try big game fishing for kingfish, marlin and tuna. We had a splendid day with nothing but blue sky at sea, but the only thing we caught was barracoutas.

 

Next stop on The North Island was the area around Lake Rotorua. In Lake Rotorua, Lake Rotoiti and the Ohau Channel there are lots of brownies and rainbows, but again we vere too early for the season.
The peak season is when the watertemperature in the lakes get so high, that the fish gather in the cool water just outside the rivermouths.
We did get contact with fish but not many, and it was only early in the morning and late in the evening.
We allso tested our float tubes in one of the smaller lakes Lake Okareka.

 

In Rotorua lies The Maori Arts and Craft Institute and the thermal area Te Whakarewarewa.
It's one of the things you just have to visit as a tourist, and of course we did so.

 

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On to Lake Taupo and the town of Turangi, wihch markets itself as nothing less than "The Trout Fishing Capital of the World".
Here it was nymph fishing in Tongariro River, that was to be tried out. This fishing is so well known, that it has become an institution in angling: "Tongariro Nymphing". We also tried out the close by Tauranga-Taupo River (T-T River), and once more we dipped the float tubes, this time in Lake Okataina.

 

Just south of Lake Taupo lies Tongariro National Park with the mountains Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro. Besides being film location in Lord Of The Rings TNP is known for what is described as New Zealands most beautiful one day trek the Tongariro Crossing, so we just had to try that as well.

Unfortunately we had hired our car from the greatest swindler in New Zealand, David Morris aka Downtown Rentals in Auckland.
Our problems with him culminated during our stay in Turangi and ended with us having to leave the car there.
We were heading towards the South Island and our trip had to end in Christchurch. The only place from where we with a days notice were able to hire a mobil home was - well - in Chrischurch! So we had to take a bus to Wellington, and from there the ferry to Picton - stay there overnight - and the following day take the bus further along to Christchurch.

 

2 days later we stood in Christchurch and now with a real mobil home.
Our first target was one of the upper tributaries to the migthy Buller River in the northwest corner of The South Island.
We fished 2 of the tributaries, Maruia River and Owen River, both picturesque stretches and with the gradually so wellknown ginclear water. Fishing this kind of water is not easy for a pair of clumsy danes; one false cast and zip goes the fish. No fish - but what an experience.

Further down the Westcoast to one of the many lakes. Lake Kaniere was the chosen one. With a change in the weather, freezing cold nights and rainy days this realy was a mixed pleasure. Per succeeded in catching a perch from his float tube before we fled further south.

Lake Wanaka, what a change. Sun and blue skies again.
The local ranger runs the only tackleshop, Wanaka Sports Center, and supplied us with a map of the lake, good information about fishing and particulary strict information about where we were not allowed to fish(!!!).

 

Of we went to a big shallow inlet Paddock Bay where we had 3 days of fantastic fishing after shiny rainbows and beautiful brown trout (brownies).
The locals just walk on the bank and sight fish, mostly for brownies who are verry territorial and patrol down to a few inches of water.
The rainbows stay in deeper water and the locals only fish them from boat.
We waded in kneedeep water and fished both the shallow water in front of us and the weedbeads futher out, and we caught both rainbows and brownies.

 

Next stop Queenstown. The city where all the fun is.
Per went of parashuting over one of New Zealands most beautiful mountain ranges The Remarkables. I took a bungy jump where this all started at Kawarau Bridge with A J Hackett.
Among other places we fished one rainy day at Kinloch Station at the end of 19 km of washboard-like gravel road where Dart River runs into Lake Wakatipu. Lots of fish in the water but they were extremely selective. They only took tiny little super-natural nymphs fished just below the surface, and even them they just nibled at. That was excitement at the highest level.
There is a reason for Paradise being situated between there and Queenstown. The place really is magnificent - at least when it's not raining - I just guess we were getting immune.

 

Now came the place that Per really had been looking forward to, the Tekapo-Pukaki Canal.
On the way up there we made a 1½hour stop where Ahuriri River runs into Lake Benmore. That's where I caught the finest rainbow of our trip, a spotted 45 cm real beauty.

 

In the Tekapo-Pukaki Canal lies the highest situated salmon farm in the world Mt. Cook Salmon Farm 677m above sea level.
They only breed chinook salmon (king salmon), and like everywhere else from time to time some of them escape.
The fishing is best downstream right up to the cages. Not verry exciting. For the locals this is just fishing for food. Baitfishing at the bottom with worms and 60 gram lead. During one afternoon we saw 2 oap's crane at least 4 fish out of the canal.

With a gale blowing down the canal nymphing and any other kind of flyfishing was out of the question. Fortunately Per caught a 2.3 kg salmon on a spinner so our honour was satisfied.

Last stop on the trip was to be one of the many rivers that drains the Canteburry Plains, a flat area the size of Jutland souh of Christchurch, so from Tekapo we drowe east towards the coast. The goal was Opihi River.
We started at Raincliffs about 60 km up the river, where we ran into one of the locals, who without luck had spent the morning fishing that section.
He recommended us to try further out by the river mouth, but beeing here, we had to give it a try.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Raincliffs whitout endangering the trout population there.
During the afternoon the weather changed, and the next day started with rain.

 

Due to the rain the Opihi River itself was colored and flodded, so we decided to try the tributary Hae Hae Te Moana River (Temuka River) in stead.
This should proove to be a good choice.
From State Highway 1 and downsream to the railway bridge is the most fantastic section. In a wide delta the river splits into several streams with lots of holes, bends and shelters where both of us during one mornings fishing caught some nice fish.

After Temuka River the fishing gear was packed and we headed north to Christshurch. Our fishing adventure in New Zealand had come to it's end.

 

Post script.
This is only snapshots from our trip with fishing in focus.

New Zealand has so much fishing water to offer, og and the country is just so beautiful. The phrase: „Take the best from every country all over the world and put it together in one place. Then you got New Zealand“ is no exaggeration.

We made one essential mistake, we wanted to attain too much. Even with 5 weeks you should restrict yourself to one of the islands and concentrate on not more than one place per week.
Be prepared to change your plans from one day to another. The weather changes fast and dramatically and especially on The South Island fishing and the experience of the country totally depends on the weather.

A final warning:
Salmonfishing is said to be dangerous, it's like an infection with no cure. But that's nothing! You will find out why once you've tried New Zealand.