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Manganuioteao River
Orautoha Stream
Upper Mangawhero River
Taonui Stream
Tokiahuru and Waitaiki Streams
Retaruke River
Sattlers Dam

Manganuioteao River

Granted a National Water Conservation Order in 1989, the Manganuioteao River near Raetihi supports a nationally significant fishery for brown and rainbow trout.

These trout average 1.6 kg, though some fish reach 4 kg or more.

The river is also notable for its outstanding scenic values and whio (blue duck) population.

The fishery was adversely affected by a major flood in October 2013 but is now well on the road to recovery.

Angling use is low by national standards and there are always easy to access, undisturbed fishing spots to be found.

The defined sequence of deep pools, runs and rapids create a diversity of fishing water that caters for all angling methods and levels of skill.

Rainbow trout tend to dominate in the upper river above the Mangamingi Stream confluence, both species occur in similar numbers through the middle section where most angling occurs, and below the Makakahi confluence, brown trout are most common.

The high water quality sourced from snowmelt and glacial runoff supports rich insect life dominated by caddisflies but also including mayfly and stonefly species, all of which hatch regularly through the warmer months.

A feature of the river is the evening rise which occurs on calm, mild evenings throughout spring and summer.

Similarly in late January and February in good cicada years, trout will rise freely during the day to floating terrestrial imitations, particularly along the foam line at the head of the pool and in the shallower and faster ‘pocket’ water.

All legal methods work well.

Typically the pools are productive early in the season while later on the runs and rapids come into their own.

Be aware that some of the pools are very deep and if not having success fishing this water then the answer is usually to add more weight.

When spin fishing fine lines and small veltics and spoons work well when the river is low and clear and especially when fishing the shallower runs and rapids.

However when the water is discoloured or when fishing the bigger pools then larger, brighter lures are favoured.

Diving lures such as rapalas also work well in the pools as do softbaits.

Often these are taken on the drop or if allowed to rest momentarily on the bottom the trout will pick them up at this point.

When fly fishing the pools during the day an indicator rig fished upstream with a deeply weighted nymph and trailing smaller unweighted or lightly weighted conventional mayfly or caddis imitation nymph is often effective.

However if not having success be prepared to add more weight and/ or lengthen the leader.

Similarly, many of these pools lend themselves to being fished from the top of the pool with a wetfly such as a woolly bugger or rabbit swung downstream on a fast sinking fly line or sinking leader.

A feature of many of these pools is a back eddy at the head of the pool and often trout will lie in this zone facing downstream where they are susceptible to a nymph or fly drifted back upstream along the edge.

Once water temperatures warm many trout will move into the shallow runs above a pool or the pocket water amongst the rapids, and quietly prospecting these reaches with smaller spinners such as small veltics and light spoons can be very successful.

Similarly, flyfishing this water with a floating fly line and small weighted nymph suspended below a buoyant dry fly such as a royal coachman, or alternatively a high floating cicada imitation on its own, can make for a very productive afternoon.

Often overlooked by many visitors to the Manganuioteao is the evening rise.

Pools that earlier seemed devoid of fish can suddenly have numerous trout rising.

Traditional dry flies like the March Brown, Twilight Beauty and Kakahi Queen are still favoured by many local anglers, or alternatively, a high floating sedge pattern trailing a non-descript emerger nymph or traditional wet fly.

The advantage of this second rig is that the dry can be fished upstream in a conventional manner and then at the end of the drift the nymph is allowed to drag around in the manner of an emerging sedge.

This covers several bases at once without the difficulty of re-rigging in the gathering gloom.

While it is legal, bait fishing is rarely practised on this river though trailing a worm or creeper (dobsonfly larvae) under a bubble float is an effective way to introduce a budding angler to trout fishing.

Alternatively, many of the pools with their deep water and open banks lend themselves to a novice caster learning to spin fish.

To access the middle reaches which comprise the great majority of accessible fishing water turn left off SH4 into Ruatiti Road, 4 km north of Raetihi.

Follow Ruatiti Road for 12 km to reach the river at the Oruotaha confluence.

The Makakahi and Pukekaha Roads branch off Ruatiti Road to the lower and upper reaches respectively.

All access to the lower reach is across private land and you must obtain permission.

In the middle reaches, river access and a delightful and free camping area are available at Ruatiti Domain, located by continuing downstream along Ruatiti Road.

Bridge crossings also provide river access.

A public right of way exists along both banks from approximately 2 km below Ruatiti Domain upstream to the vicinity of SH4.

However steep bluffs and anything but low flows often make access along the river itself difficult.

The landowners through this middle section are very amenable to providing access across their paddocks (recognising that occasionally farming activities may preclude this in a particular location) – so long as you ask, park away from gates and NO dogs!

Obtaining access opens up many easy to reach fishing locations.

Click here for a map that shows the various property boundaries along the most easily accessed part of the river and lists a contact phone number for each. Cell phone coverage is minimal along the river so it is advised to ring in advance of your visit.

Note that above the Hoihenga Stream confluence the river flows within a steep gorge and local knowledge is necessary to locate the limited and often difficult to negotiate access points.

Orautoha Stream

When driving towards the Manganuioteao River, the Orautoha Stream is the small and attractive stream lying to the right of, and flowing parallel to Ruatiti Road.

The Orautoha is a major spawning tributary of the Manganuioteao River and can be very productive early in the fishing season before rising temperatures become too warm for trout.

There are some excellent pool and riffle sections in the first few kilometres upstream of its confluence with the Manganuioteao River which can be easily accessed.

There is a public right of way all the way up the true right bank (on your right when facing downstream) to Papa Road and on the left bank from the confluence with the Manganuioteao River up to the second road bridge upstream.

However as for elsewhere asking for permission to cross the paddocks and to access the upper true left bank does make life much easier and is strongly recommended.

While the stream shares the fish population of the Manganuioteao River, rainbow trout seem reluctant to hold in the shallow water and most fish taken are brown trout between 1 and 2 kg.

Nymph or dry fly fishing on fine gear is recommended and is a small stream anglers should try to maintain a low profile or risk spooking these wary fish.

Upper Mangawhero River

Flowing through Ohakune, the upper Mangawhero River contains a good population of brown trout averaging 1.5 kg.

The headwaters are within Tongariro National Park, however here the river is enveloped in native bush which while scenic, makes angling difficult.

The river leaves the National Park to run through Ohakune township and then crosses farmland before entering an inaccessible gorge upstream of SH4.

This 10 km stretch between Ohakune and the gorge is the most popular fishing reach and is characterised by gravelly rocky runs, pools and more placid willow-lined stretches.

Early in the season cased caddis dominate the trout diet but as the season progresses mayfly nymphs become more important.

In December fish often gorge on brown and green beetle and in more recent years in April on wasps under the willow trees.

As is common with most rivers in the area there is a good evening rise over spring and summer.

On initial inspection the Mangawhero may appear to hold few fish.

However, the water often has a brownish tinge which makes seeing trout more difficult, and if an area is watched for a period of time fish will often become apparent.

Over summer trout will often lie just under the surface against overhanging or instream cover.

These fish are very easy to overlook and equally difficult to cast to though if a small unweighted nymph or emerger pattern can be cast close to them they will often readily take this.

Otherwise, a weighted nymph under an indicator or dry fly can be used to prospect deeper pools and runs or to target trout seen feeding deeper.

Typically, dry fly fishing is confined to the evening rise using the same patterns and techniques as mentioned for the Manganuioteao River.

However an exception is when trout are rising to take beetles (or wasps) during the day.

Through this stretch the river is not particularly big and if spinning care should be taken to keep out of sight of any trout and use light and subtle gear - light lines and small lures like veltics and small spoons which minimise any disturbance when cast.

As elsewhere, spinning is often more effective when the river has some colour in it, which perhaps helps hide the angler and their gear.

Access is from Ohakune Mountain Road, within Ohakune township and from Mangawhero River, Raetihi- Ohakune and Pakihi roads.

While a right of public access extends down the true left bank from the Mangawhero River Road Bridge to just below Pakihi Road Bridge, much of the preferred access is along the opposite bank.

Downstream of Mangawhero River Road on the true right the owner Murray Fredricksen is happy for anglers to access along the river but please no dogs.

Similarly, to fish the true right bank upstream of Pakahi Road please ring Bruce Rollinson first on 027 444 6961.

Below the Raetihi-Ohakune Road “golf course” bridge the river is open to angling all year round.

Taonui Stream

This small spring-fed stream joins the Mangawhero at a point halfway between Ohakune and Raetihi.

The stream holds fish throughout its length, but it is fished mostly in the 4km below the railway line.

The water is generally narrow with a gravel and rock bed, long shallow riffles and occasional pools.

The same brown trout population is shared with the Mangawhero but the average weight is greater at 2 kg and the stream has a reputation for producing some very large fish.

Access is from SH49 and from Mangawhero River Road near the Mangawhero confluence.

There is no public access along the stream and the landowner permission must be obtained.

During the day flyfishing with weighted nymphs and a small indicator can be effective though the fish, in the way of brown trout, are often tucked away under the banks and can seem few and far between.

However, fishing the evening rise with standard dry fly patterns can be much more rewarding.

The Toanui is rather small for effective spinning. 

Tokiahuru and Waitaiki Streams

These streams have their origins in Karioi Forest on Mount Ruapehu’s southern slopes.

Fishable water extends from the railway line where the forest gives way to farmland down to the confluence with the Whangaehu River, approximately 10 km downstream.

The water of the Whangaehu is naturally acidic from Ruapehu’s crater-lake and this effectively isolates the Tokiahuru system.

The Waitaiki and Tokiahuru streams come together about 4 km above the Whangaehu confluence, and large trout are most abundant from where they join down to the Whangaehu.

Above their confluence both streams are rather small, the water ‘heavy’ and large stretches of the Tokiahuru in particular are heavily overgrown.

The system supports a mixed population of brown and rainbow trout with fish in excess of 2 kg occasionally taken.

Available food consists of mayflies and caddis, creeper and also beetles and other terrestrials which fall in off the overhanging grassy banks and trees.

Due to the cold spring water the emergence of aquatic insects is often later than in other near-by waters and dry fly fishing is not usually productive before mid-November, with the best fishing between December and March.

Heavily weighted nymphs (hare and copper, halfback, pheasant tail and caddis imitations) or a two-nymph rig are recommended, and often more weight is necessary than you might first expect due to the heavy nature of the water.

However these are still small clear streams and it is necessary to be judicious about the size and colour of any indicator used and to take care when stalking and casting to fish so as not to be seen.

Alternatively if the trout are up feeding close to or off the surface then a dry fly or a dry fly and small nymph combination can be used, keeping in mind that all sorts of terrestrials including beetles and grasshoppers may fall from the banks over summer.

Both streams are open all year below the SH49 bridges.

Access is from Karioi Station Road, Whangaehu Valley Road and Oruakukuru Road.

There are no rights of public access along these streams and anglers should seek permission from the adjacent landowner.

Retaruke River

This Whanganui River tributary rising west of Raurimu contains a mixed population of brown and rainbow trout.

At its best the upper reaches are a delightful backcountry fishery, however, in recent years it has been severely impacted by sediment from a major slip in Erua Forest.

This slip is now stabilising and the trout fishery is rebounding well.

In recognition that the fishery is in a rebuilding phase, the river was catch and release only for several seasons, but from the 2021 season, the regulations have reverted to all legal methods and a two trout daily bag limit.

The upper river provides extensive fly fishing water and is accessible from Oio Road (off SH4 just south of Owhango) and Upper Retaruke Road.

The remaining 20km of the river down to the Whanganui junction is larger and more tannin-stained, and best suited to spinning.

Access to the lower river is via Oio Road down to Whakahoro.

Much of the upper river comprises open shallow gravel and boulder runs and rapids with many trout holding in the pocket water, especially over the height of summer.

There are also some steep-sided gorge sections that create deeper pools, these are often more difficult to fish than they first appear due to swirling currents.

Exploring the pocket water and pools with weighted nymphs under an indicator or buoyant dry fly works well.

Alternatively swimming a sunken wetfly down through the deeper pools can overcome some of the difficult currents and swirls that may sometimes handicap using a sunken nymph.

On warm summer evenings, there can also be a good evening rise which can be fished to using the same traditional patterns as mentioned elsewhere.

When spinning in the upper river it is necessary to take a refined approach by keeping out of sight of any trout and using light line and small lures to minimise the disturbance.

However lower down in the bigger, more coloured water there is less subtlety required and this stretch lends itself to using larger, easy to cast lures.

While there is public access along both banks over much of the river, public access spots to reach the river are limited.

Also, be aware that illegal hunting is a serious issue in this area and landowners are understandably suspicious of unknown vehicles parked in remote locations.

It is therefore recommended to contact the adjacent landowner which in turn may open up many more access points and make for an easier walk back to your vehicle.

Sattlers Dam

Located west of Raetihi this small forestry dam is stocked by Fish & Game in autumn each year using two-year-old rainbow trout kindly donated by the Tongariro National Trout Centre in Turangi.

Typically anglers fish the dam using spinning gear and with minimal obstructions to get hung up on it is a popular spot to take children to learn to cast and fish.

The dam is only 70 m wide at its widest point (and 4 m deep) and using easy to cast lures allows an angler to cover the majority of the dam from the readily accessed dam heading.

The dam does receive a lot of angling visits in the weeks following each release, and over time the remaining trout may become wise to popular lures.

However, another successful method is to cast out a floating dry fly and just let it sit.

In such a small dam sooner or later a trout will come past and will often take this.

The dry fly can be cast using a floating fly line or alternatively using a bubble float partially filled with water to aid casting and spinning gear.

It does require the angler to concentrate on the fly, however, seeing the strike does make for an exciting way for kids to catch a trout.

To access Sattlers Dam head west from Raetihi along the Pipiriki- Raetihi Road before turning right into Mangaeturoa North Road.

This winding and narrow-metalled road is used by forestry traffic including loaded logging trucks so please keep left, follow the speed restrictions and expect oncoming traffic.

Follow this road up into the gorge for approximately 6 km until Sattlers Dam appears on the right.

  • Manganuioteao access map 2018
    339 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file