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Northland Fishing Locations & Access

Northland Fish & Game Council jurisdiction extends from a line north of Wellsford to Mangawhai Heads and continues right up through the region to Cape Reinga in the Far North. Being New Zealand’s northern most trout fishery is indeed a wonder of nature.

Access Maps:

To view our access maps click on the following links: Kai Iwi Lakes or Lake Manuwai or Kerikeri River or Wairua River

Fish Stocks:

Temperate climate conditions and warm water temperatures play havoc with sports fish generally suited to existing in colder, more oxygenated water. Fish releases by the Acclimatisation Societies during the 1960s and 1970s paved the way for today’s progeny. The fish stocks of today are well adapted and exist in good numbers throughout most of Northland.  The need to restock rivers and streams is no longer seen as necessary as the early releases established a good base for today’s fishery. 

Introductions involved two trout species, of which the Rainbow is the more predominant. Rainbows appear to have a greater tolerance to the warmer conditions while the Browns tends to inhabit cooler wooded areas. Fish of good size can be found in most waterways when conditions are right.

Fishing in Northland:

Most types of fishing technique may be employed with good success. Fishing terrain encountered is varied and may be tree-lined clear bush rivers to kilometres of farmland fishing.

The famous Kai Iwi lakes near Dargaville, or the manmade reservoirs in Whangarei and Kerikeri are another option for anglers. The Northland fishery has a preference for everyone’s taste, ability, and technique with plenty of accessible water. Landowners appear to be very obliging to trout anglers and access permission granted is generally good. Anglers are asked to check with landowners for entry permission, as a great majority of Northland waterways don’t have marginal rights. There are hundreds of kilometres of fishable waters throughout the region, so try some exploring, check current regulations and enjoy what is Northland's best kept secret.

Anglers are requested to check your boats and gear to ensure that NO aquatic plants are bought into the catchments. Nuisance aquatic plants establish very easily in Northland and become an environmental disaster that will cost a great deal of money and resources to remove and eradicate.

Lakes and Reservoirs

Northland Fish & Game has five bodies of water, which are stocked annually with some 4000 Rainbow fingerlings. Of these five catchments two are constructed reservoirs with the others being natural sand based lakes. The need to replenish these areas is necessitated by the lack of suitable spawning inflow and bottom substrates. The lake fisheries over the years have provided anglers in Northland with a bounty of beautifully conditioned Rainbow Trout. The reservoir fishing is challenging as water levels are manipulated and changed. The water levels dictate how and where anglers can fish. Northlands lakes and reservoir fisheries produce good fighting fish and are open all year round with Bait, Fly, and Spin fishing tackle catering for to types of anglers.

Anglers should check local regulations in their Fish & Game sport fishing guide.

Rivers and Streams

Northland has hundreds of kilometres of fishable streams and rivers. Most have been stocked with Rainbow or Brown trout under the management of the acclimatisation societies. Today’s fisheries are a result of those dedicated people and the work they achieved.

These rivers and streams fisheries are perhaps not as spectacular as some South Island waters but can still provide some great fishing.

Rivers and streams can hold 3 kilo plus fish, with the average being around 1 kilo. The diversity of fishing opportunity and surrounding countryside is quite unique, as Northland doesn’t have large, mountainous catchments. As such the angler can experience a multitude of settings within a few short kilometres.

The angling opportunities are great as the fishing pressure is somewhat of a lesser degree than fisheries further south. All rivers and streams are closed from May 1 to September 30 and all bait fishing is prohibited. A bit of exploring will generally produce the results and some anglers may be pleasantly surprised as to what they catch.

Kai-Iwi Lakes

The Kai-Iwi lakes are sand based dune lakes situated some 35 kilometres north of the township of Dargaville. The Lakes, which in Maori roughly translates to “Kai” for (food) and “Iwi” for (tribe) are famous in the north for their scenery. The area comes alive with the onset of summer as people arrive for their annual holidays.

The fishing is popular throughout the winter period, but still provides good numbers of fish all year round. During summer boating tactics are used, as the fish tend to inhabit the deeper margins of these lakes when water temperatures are warm.

The rainbow trout is the only sportfish available to anglers in these lakes, with excellent well conditioned fish being taken every year which average 1.0 kg, and can grow up to 4 - 4.5 kg. The main types of tackle used are fast sinking lines with Koura or bully imitation flies for shore based anglers or lead lines and jigs for boat based fishermen. The lakes are a fantastic place to take the whole family and are truly a great destination worth the effort. To view the access map and brochure click on Kai Iwi Lakes

Whau Valley Dam

This man made dam serves as Whangarei’s public water supply and as such can vary in depth and size. Annually stocked with 300 rainbow fingerlings it is essentially the nearest fishing anglers have in the Whangarei area. Angling is restricted to shore based activity with good results coming when using a sinking line. Fish targeted are rainbows, but browns are also present and have managed to self sustain from early liberations. Fish size and quality depends on water availability and the food that creates. The rainbows tend to average 1 kilo in size while the browns have been recorded as being very large but extremely crafty to catch. The lake periphery can be fished when water levels are low enough, but is generally only fished from the car park side of the reservoir. No boating is allowed on the water.

Lake Manuwai

Situated a few kilometres north of Waipapa is Lake Manuwai. A manmade irrigation dam, which was constructed for irrigation purposes to serve the Kerikeri horticultural belt.

The lake has good numbers of rainbows trout, which are readily taken with wet flies and bait. The normal shore based fishing techniques work well and non-motorised boat fishing is permitted. The lake edge vegetation impedes angling in a lot of places but fishing is good where areas permit. The lake is set in a very picturesque valley catchment and is a great place for the whole family.

To view the access map and brochure forthe Whau Valley's Lake Manuwai Dam click on Lake Manuwai

Dargaville Area

Waima River
The Waima River is 45 km north of Dargaville along State Highway 12, then up Donnelly’s Road to Donnelley’s Crossing.

The best fishing method on the Dargaville Rivers is Fly Fishing but it is recommended for the more experienced and active angler.

Mangatu River
The Mangatu River flows into the Kaihu River approximately 5 Kms upstream of the Motor Camp along Oputeke Road. The conditions are similar to those of the Kaihu River.

Kaihu River
The Kaihu River is 30 Km north of Dargaville township on State Highway 12 and flows in a southerly direction. The best place to start fishing this river is from Kaihu Township upstream. The river tends to run clear most of the time and is very picturesque.

Kaikohe and Kerikeri Area

Punakitere River
The Punakitere River has a small population of rainbow trout in its upper reaches. This river can be reached by travelling west through the township of Kaikohe and turn south down Mataraua Road. Progress down Mataraua Road for about 8 km’s until you come to the first main bridge. The more successful flies in this river are Parson’s Glory and rabbit flies.

The upper section of the Punakitere River can be accessed by turning south at Kaikohe onto the Mangakahia Road. Travel down this road for approximately 5 km’s to the first main bridge. The stream has extensive and heavy bank cover that makes fly fishing very difficult. Spin fishing is the most productive and easiest method on this water.

Waitangi River
The Waitangi River flows eastward from Waimate North to Haruru Falls near Paihia. The river has a scattering of rainbows along its entire length. The best area to fish is around the Bay of Islands Holiday Park, (Lilypond) Puketona Road, and Paihia.
The river can be accessed east of Puketona Junction off State Highway 10.

Waipapa River and Wiahoanga Stream
The Waipapa River flows through the Puketi Kauri Forest and has wild trout throughout its entire length.

This river can be accessed from State Highway 1 and Forest Road about 8 km north of Okaihau.

These trout average approximately 0.5 kg and can be caught on smelt flies like Parson’s Glory, a wide range of nymphs such as Pheasant Tail, Halfback, and Hare and Copper. In the summer months’ imitations of cicada and green beetles work well.

The scenery in the area offers anglers a feeling of solitude and is the nearest Northland has to a backcountry fishery.

Waipapa Stream
The Waipapa stream flows from Lake Manuwai and out to the Kerikeri inlet. The most productive areas to fish are near the State Highway 10 road bridge and downstream towards the coast. Anglers require landowner permission as most fishing is from private land.

Kerikeri River
The Kerikeri River flows from the high plateau next to the Puketi State Forest down towards Kerikeri inlet and the famous Stone Store. The fishing is best above State Highway 10 but fish are downstream of here. Rainbows of up to 1.5kg can be caught but landowner entry is required as most fishing is from private land.

To view the access map and brochure click on Kerikeri River

Tirohanga River
The Tirohanga is a small stream that flows down from the western side of the Russell State Forest and meanders towards the township of Kawakawa. The upper reaches don’t hold fish due to its step nature but fish are encountered once the gradient levels out. Access to the fishing is through private property and once again landowner permission is required.

Whangarei Area

Mangahahuru Stream
Situated 10 km north of Whangarei along State Highway 1 is the Mangahahuru Stream. A bridge marks the stream which is sign posted. Turn right over bridge into Mower Road until you come to the railway crossing. You can walk up stream for approximately 3 Kms. This stream would suit the more experienced angler. There is reasonable fishing if you go downstream from the State Highway 1 Bridge. Seek landowner entry permission up or downstream.

Kirikiritoki Stream
20 km north of Whangarei along State Highway 1 turn off onto the Whananaki Rd. Approximately 6 km along this road you will come to a bridge, this is the Kirikiritoki Stream. If you turn right along the Marua road the river winds alongside it for many kilometres, giving good access for anglers. This river is wooded along the banks and is probably more suited for experienced anglers. Approximately 2 km downstream from the Whananaki Road bridge the Kaikanui stream joins the Kirikiritoki Stream and there is good fishing for several kilometres downstream. From the junction this river is known as the Kaikanui River.

Kaikanui River
The first bridge on the Old Russell Road just off State Highway 1 at Whakapara. Approximately 22 km from Whangarei is the lower end of the Kaikanui and the Kaimamaku. This is a very productive spot and well worth trying. Downstream from this point the river is known as the Whakapara River.

Kaimamaku River
The river winds alongside the Old Russell Road. It is a gravel-based river and in the summer the water becomes gin clear. This river is probably more suited to nymphing the pools. Fish do not appear to lie in the runs as the water temperature may be to warm in the summer. The river runs alongside the road until you start to go up the hill towards Helena Bay. Just before the hill there is a road that turns off to the left, Peach Orchard road. The river winds alongside this road for a short distance.

Whakapara River
Located 22 km north of Whangarei along State Highway 1. Good fishing upstream from the main road to the junction of Kaimamaku/ Kaikanui Streams. Downstream from the main road there is excellent fishing for several kilometres. Approx. 5-6 km downstream from the main road bridge this river joins the Waiotu River and becomes the Wairua River from that point downstream.

Waiotu River
Located 28 km north of Whangarei along State Highway One. Just over the railway crossing at Waiotu there is a road and railway bridge. There is good fishing up and downstream. If you go over the railway line and head back towards Whangarei the first bridge you come to cross is the PuhiPuhi Stream. Do not go upstream, as the bed of the stream is full of logs. Go downstream on the left bank and you will come to the junction of this stream with the Waiotu. If you keep going downstream for about 4 km you will come to the junction of the Whakapara/Waiotu Rivers. It is well worth trying here in the evening. If you keep heading North on State Highway 1 you will come to Hukerenui Hotel, turn right 50 metres past the hotel.

Waiariki River
A small river, which joins the Waiotu half a km downstream on the left hand bank. This junction is a good place at night and is reached along the Waiotu riverbanks by way of marginal strip. Fish in this waterway are generally Browns with Rainbows in the lower 400 metres before the Waiotu. Access to upper areas is via private land so permission is needed.

Wairua River
The Wairua River runs from the junction of the Waiotu/Whakapara Rivers North of Whangarei to Titoki some 26 km West of Whangarei. Access to this river can be gained from many roads. There is still good fishing especially in the evenings when casting to the evening rise. On State Highway 1 approximately 250 metres past the road to Hikurangi turn left down Jordan Valley Road, go past Apotu Road, past Rushbrook Road, and then you will then come to a bridge that crosses the Wairua River. It is not necessary to gain permission in this area, as there is a Marginal Strip.

Another place to try is back along Rushbrook Road, turn right at the intersection, and at the bottom of the hill there is a bridge that crosses the Wairua River. Good fishing upstream and downstream. Farmer permission is required for access.

On State Highway 1 about 0.5 km past the Kamo Shopping Centre turn left onto Ruatangata Road. Approximately 20 km along this road you will come to a bridge crossing the Wairua River There is good fishing to be had here both up and downstream. Drive over this bridge and take the first Rd on the left, (Puketitoi Road). By following this road you will eventually end up at Titoki. Go past Rapids Road on your left and park your vehicle near the next road on the right. This road leads to a farmer’s cowshed. Walk across the paddock on the left and just along from the pump shed there is a waterfall. Upstream from this point is good fishing. Downstream from the waterfall for the next 2-3 Kms also holds’ trout in pools and runs with some good fish able to be taken.

If you take State Highway 14 to Dargaville, and 12 km from Whangarei is the turn off called Maungatapere/Kaikohe Road.
Approximately 12 km along this road it crosses the Wairua River. 300 metres across the bridge is the road to the Wairua Falls. Good fishing below the falls in normal flow conditions. Just before you cross the bridge over the Wairua River there is a crossroad. Drive along Kokopu Rd and take the first road on your left. This is Malone Road, and goes to the end of this road. There you will find a bridge crossing the Wairua River. Excellent fishing is to be had here for both spinning and fly-fishing.

From the Wairua River bridge keep driving towards Kaikohe about 3-4 km you will come to a bridge crossing the Mangakahia River. All tributaries into the Mangakahia have had trout liberated in them, but trout do not seem to hold in this system. The fish that are seen in this river and its tributaries are usually mullet and many a trout angler has been fooled believing they are casting to a trout.

To view the access map and brochure click on Wairua River