Aloha Trout Unlimited members
This year, members of the Hawaii Trout Unlimited visited New Zealand, (a trip that originally was postponed due to the pandemic) in February 2023. Donna, Doug and I, along with our host Maurice Broome from New Zealand had a great time. I would like to thank Maurice for assisting me in putting this report together about our adventure.
Until next time-
Treasurer Trout Unlimited Chapter #403 Honolulu, Hawaii
Introduction…what this story is about!
- Each year The Hawaiian Chapter of Trout Unlimited plans a trip to New Zealand, fishing near the famous Tongariro River in Turangi and to the Mohaka River.
- Tells much about the Mohaka River area.
- Has reports of the cyclone.
- Some memories of our trip to Waitomo Caves and our visit to Kakahi to fish the Whakapapa River.
Our best results were from the Upper Whanganui River, near Tauramanui.
New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean
It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island —and over 700 smaller islands. It is the sixth-largest island country by area, covering 268,021 square kilometres.
Population: 5.183 million people; 26 million sheep, 4 million cows and nearly 48 million possums and “Maurice”!
Here are just a few of the benefits of living in New Zealand
The landscape is unreal. Beauty awaits around every corner! It’s incredibly safe. Easy to get a work Visa.
The food culture is to die for. There’s free (public) healthcare. New Zealand is nuclear-free. Extremely laid-back.
Better still, fly fishing is very rewarding with many minimum river limits of rainbow trout being 350mm or 13.8 inches.
He sat in the office and dreamed away
About the chance to go fishing every day
And to make the big decisions – what fly to try
As the elusive trout slowly drifted by.
Dreaming of a windless day and an easy cast
While imitating a nymph or a cicada floating past
The trout running at the fly and setting the hook
Just as it does on YouTube or in the fishing book.
Of long days on the river, without a care
With fishing buddies, the pleasure to share
Of perfect riffles, drop offs and pools
And fish that don’t make us look like fools.
Of life changing experiences, the 10lb trout
Is what life is really all about! ……borrowed from Maurice’s fishing website
The Mohaka River
The Mohaka River is on the North Island of New Zealand in the east central region of Hawkes Bay. Mohaka is a Maori word, roughly translated it means “Place for dancing”. The iwi associated with the Mohaka River are Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Hineuru, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Mana Ahuriri.
The headwaters are found in the Kaweka and Kaimanawa ranges. From there, it flows about 124km to the Pacific Ocean near the town of Mohaka. As the river flows from mountain to sea, it provides a variety of angling opportunities.
It is the upper reaches along with the challenging middle sections of the Mohaka that has given it such a big name here in New Zealand and even across the globe. It draws anglers from all over as they try their luck for a Mohaka trophy.
Many guides operate on the Mohaka providing anglers with an experienced hand at catching a fish. Some guides and adventure operators also offer the chance to access fishing spots that no other can through the use of inflatable rafts and even helicopter. These methods enable anglers access to areas of the river that otherwise would be difficult and sometimes impossible to reach, giving anglers that increased opportunity at a trophy sized fish.
Dry fly fishing is ideal during the summer months when the temperatures are warm and trout are feeding heavily on the surface as hatches such as caddis occur. The pick of all methods however, for most rivers and this being the same for the Mohaka, is “nymphing”. “Nymphing” is very rewarding as an angler can fish both deep and shallow runs successfully, it is also a very accurate way to fish as an experienced angler can know where his nymphs are the entire time, this being especially important when sight fishing. So, by knowing when and where to use each of these methods, your success as an angler should increase.
So let’s plan a trip to the Mohaka River
Three or four anglers had flown in from Hawaii to come and fish a good New Zealand River.
Donna and Deane, Doug and Paul (from NH, USA)
A team of five anglers from TMW (Team Mid-Week Anglers) with another American from Weare, NH, were preparing to all join together at Mohaka River Valley Farm, for four nights and three days fishing.
Maurice, Grant, Michael and Lindsay
This included groups for three rafting trips down the Mohaka River, to enjoy some of the magnificent scenery NZ has to offer from a raft, as well as stopping often to catch a trout or two.
So how did this go?
A BIG, NO GO!!!
New Zealand weather turned on a massive cyclone, the worse in over 50 years, so this trip to fish the Mohaka as part of our stay, was cancelled! Over 250-400mm of rain was recorded across the region with the largest amount recorded at Glenbervie Forest 408.7mm and Whangārei Airport received 320.4mm. Wind gusts over 130 km/h were recorded in the most exposed stations with 141 km/h recorded at Cape Reinga. Whangārei Airport recorded a gust of 102 km/h.
Have a look at some flooding!
Road access was cut off, as many roads no longer existed, bridges were swept away and rivers were flooded. Some townships lost internet and mobile phone coverage with about 10,000 people displaced as flood waters swept through houses. About 11 people died in this cyclone.
In Turangi, where we had our accommodation, we were fortunate as we were safe and only suffered high winds which toppled some trees, no real damage from flooding.
Our New Zealand angling friend, Maurice, lives in a town called Paraparaumu and about 7:40pm Wednesday there was a strong earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale about 50km NW of Paraparaumu. It was so strong we felt the earth move here in Turangi. Of course, Maurice was used to these earthquakes.
We stayed in Turangi, not far from the pool on the Tongariro River, well, actually about 20 yards away.
Basic Bach: 3 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom, (Sleeps 8+ in 3 doubles and 4 singles) 50 metres from the Hydro Pool, one of the famous trout fishing pools on the Tongariro River
After the cyclone had mostly ended, Maurice took us up to see Glow Worms and Stalactites at a place called Waitomo Caves. A mere 2 ¼ hour drive from our accommodation in Turangi. “A mere 2 ¼ drive” says our kiwi host!!!
On a boat in Glow Worm Grotto
Hey, that’s us below, enjoying this moment!
Wonderful and stunning sights!!
Our accommodation was about 40 minutes drive SW from these Waitomo Caves, not far from a small village called Piopio (pronounced pew-pew), called Struan Farm Cottage.
On the way we saw some amazing scenery ..we were quite high up and few deer.
Maurice was willing to give a little information, where Deane caught this trout. It was by the black rock, which was by the white rock, which was beside the river. Maybe this was TOO much information!
Then onto our next accommodation at Kakahi and more fishing. This time the Whakapapa River. A mere 1 ½ hour drive from our accommodation in Turangi. So, we stayed at another tiny town called Kakahi, with only a store, Kakahi Adventure Lodge.
Kakahi Adventure Lodge with 3 bedrooms
A mere four minute’s drive away, after dark were these Natural Glow worms.
Just as good as those commercial activities of glow worms, were walls of earth, built for a proposed railway tunnel. All we had to do was to drive about 5 minutes, through this tunnel in our vehicle, after dark; park the car on this narrow road, turn off the car lights, then walk slowly back into the tunnel searching for glow worms on the tunnel walls. It seems there are other places where these glow warms also occur naturally.
Are Glow-Worms native to New Zealand?
Arachnocampa luminosa (Skuse, 1891), commonly known as New Zealand glowworm or simply Glow Worm, is a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand. The larval stage and the imago produce a blue-green bioluminescence.
This species is known to dwell in caves and on sheltered banks in native bush where humidity is high. The New Zealand Glow Worm is one of the most interesting insects of the New Zealand fauna. It occurs throughout the country in limestone caves, unused mining tunnels, along stream banks, in damp bush-clad ravines, in damp shady crevices and under tree-fern fronds in rain forests.
The larva prepares a nest in the form of a tunnel of mucous and silk and suspends from this an array of fishing lines composed of the same materials. Prey is snared in the long sticky fishing lines. The larva hauls up the fishing line on which the prey is entangled and consumes the trapped insect. Fully grown larvae measure up to 40mm in length and adult flies average 15mm in length.
Then onto fishing: The Whakapapa River
On the way back to Turangi we stopped at a few fishing locations near Tauramanui. Just within this township are ample fishing locations, as there is a high stop bank you can walk along.
Another highlight was visiting some Thermal Hot Pools at Tokannu, about 5 minutes’ drive from our accommodations at Turangi. Just ask Doug how this helped his sore back “very soothing!” Just 20 minutes in the hot water.
Before we took Doug back to Taupo for his eventual flights to get home to West Virginia, we cooked some trout Maurice had harvested, while fishing the Upper Whanganui River. They weighed at 4 ½ lb and was 55cm long. It was cooked in a smoker, which Maurice had brought along.
What was interesting is that this type of smoker seems not well known back in Hawaii. You could describe it as a rectangular metal box with a shelf about 1/3rd up in height and a lid that seals on the top of the box.
Under the metal box is one, two or three metal bowls which are filled up with purple methylated spirits. On the tray which is about 1/3rd up in height, is scattered sawdust. Above this, is a grill to allow about two inches above the sawdust, on which is placed the prepared trout, so when the sawdust burns, the smoke goes around the trout. Place the trout butterflied with the head removed on the grill, then cover with the lid.
The meths takes about 15 minutes to burn out (first drink), then allow another 30 mins (second and third drinks) before removing the lid. Carefully with a spoon and fork remove the back bone and then as many smaller bones you can see.
Maurice’s preference is then, to place the flesh (mostly bone free) in a bowl. Another bowl could have a salad and mix these together. Whoops, the bottle for the drinks is now empty and a second bottle is needed. The problem with Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from NZ is that it evaporates very quickly, once opened.
So what to do with leftovers….mix with say, Aioli to form a dip, on plain crackers or flavoured crackers, in fact on most crackers is good. If anyone can make one, contact Deane please!
Maurice’s vehicle was a mere 2016 Toyota RAV4, 2.6 litre using about 15.5 cents per mile, with gas (petrol) about $2.40 per liter or about $9 per gallon.
Beyond belief, we could fit all our clothes and fishing gear for four persons in this vehicle, on our trip to Waitomo Caves and to the Kakahi Adventure Lodge, with a cooler in the middle back seat.
Often this vehicle would have all passengers aboard, but still the engine would not start. Maurice waited for ALL seatbelts to be clipped in, before he started the motor. After about three days, all passengers seemed well trained!! Our trip, all around, with Maurice doing the driving covered about 1,800km (1,118.5 miles).
So you asked about the weather? What! You did not ask; I’ll tell you anyway!
Deane undertook a sun dance while back in his home at Hawaii, before he left. Was this that brought on the cyclone or not, we hesitate to discuss it!
By the time Maurice came to stay with us, it was on Monday, February 20th. The weather was what you may call, changeable. BUT, when we were fishing with Maurice, each fishing occasion was fine weather. Having said that, it did rain on the way to/from some fishing spots, but when we arrived to fish the weather was OK.
Driving in low cloud was a new experience for some passengers. You will have to get used to temperature conversion, as New Zealand uses Centigrade, so most days got to about 22C (71.6F) to 23C (73.4F). In those moments when it did rain, the coldest recorded was 9C (48.2F), a bit chilly, which was common, most mornings.
Most of us were wet wading, with only one wearing breathable waders – was this why he kept falling in? Maurice did warn us to take care in the sun as the UV rays are much stronger than anywhere else. Even Maurice wore a neck scarf, a wide brim sunhat with flap at rear and sun protective gloves. Remember on his website, always check what may be needed.
We watched Maurice one evening, he placed a full plastic water bottle in the freezer, then take it out frozen, for fishing the next day. During the day this water would stay cold, defrosting slowly and was most refreshing mid-afternoon as a cool drink. A practice we will follow in the future.
Maurice eventually left to go home on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, to his wife and home and it took him about 4 hours or 300km (186.4 miles). This was near the bottom of the North Island.
He was welcomed by another earthquake, only 3.1 at about 4:12pm, 21km deep and 15km NW of his home at Paraparaumu (pronounced para-para-ou-mu). He admitted he did not even notice it!
Paraparaumu is about 55km NW of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Below, page map, you may just see Kapiti Island, which Maurice can see from his house which is on some elevated land (previous sand dunes). When you cannot see Kapiti Island, it could be raining!
Other places to see on this map of the North Island of New Zealand.
- Turangi is at the base of Lake Taupo, in the middle of this map.
- Waitomo Caves is NW of Turangi.
- Kakahi is just south of Tauramanui, which you can find on this map.
- Mohaka is about halfway on the road Taupo to Napier.
Imagine a nearly vertical line from Tauranga to Castlepoint on the east coast.
Much of this area to the east was devastated by the Cyclone Gabriel, with many houses covered in water and/or mud. Many bridges and some roads were completely washed away.
For the major roads, one goes vertical from Wellington to Auckland; a second major road goes west to New Plymouth then to Auckland and a third major road goes to Napier then to Auckland.
Auckland is the major NZ airport for overseas travelers. It is about 300km (186 miles) driving about four hours south from Auckland to Turangi and then another 4-5 hours driving to Wellington so Turangi is halfway.
The maximum speed is 100km (62 miles) per hour and the common speed in towns is 50kph or 30mph; driving on the left side of the road!!
Us, Kiwis (nickname for persons living in NZ) are always looking out for tourists driving on the wrong side of the road!
To the south is the South Island with Stewart Island beneath it.
To the west is the West Island, often referred to as Australia. It is only 2,583 miles away! (Actually, Australia is its own country – this is a NZ joke, about those living next door to NZ-distant neighbours).
Wellington is about 3,000 miles to the Antarctica, with the bottom of New Zealand only 1500 miles from Antarctica.
KEEP LOOKING FOR SOME GOOD-LOOKING FISH and anglers as well
Lively rainbow trout…we always have the last say??! Until the next time….
Written by Maurice Broome, New Zealand with input from Deane, Honolulu and Doug, West Virginia.