Trolling on Lake Taupo with the magnificent backrop of the Tongariro National Park mountains
Image: Amelia Willis | DOC


Lake Taupō is the largest lake in New Zealand and offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities. With no closed season anglers can catch trout all year round.

Fishing season: 1 July to 30 June 

Lake description

With a surface area of over 600 km2, maximum depth of around 180 m and a shoreline of more than 190 km Lake Taupō is a big lake. Its large size can be daunting, particularly for newcomers. The good news is trout are not spread randomly throughout the lake, so armed with some basic knowledge even new anglers can soon find fish.

Once they enter the lake most Rainbow trout adopt a pelagic lifestyle, roaming open water pursuing large shoals of baitfish – smelt. Depending on the time of year these shoals can usually be found in water ranging from 45 m to 25 m. In early summer the smelt move into shallow water to spawn, so the trout will follow. Late summer and early autumn will see mature trout gathering off river mouths as they prepare to run up the rivers to spawn.

Where to fish

With an understanding of where trout are likely to be found, you can set about catching them. Boat and shore anglers can target trout in many ways. The well prepared boatie can head out in a small dingy or a kayak and catch fish in calmer weather, particularly on the sheltered bays to the west of Taupō and Tūrangi.

For the angler who wishes to fish the shoreline, Lake Taupō offers long sandy bays and rocky headlands for the spin fishermen, or a heap of stream mouths which concentrate the fish and are popular with fly fishers.

How to fish

For the boat angler, techniques like jigging, harling, trolling and downrigging will consistently deliver fish, so long as you chose the right technique for the time of year.

Shore based anglers will find fly fishing with a sinking line at river mouths can be very successful as can spinning on beaches or rocky outcrops. Again, you simply need to understand the life cycle of trout to ensure you are in the right place at the right time.

As always be sure to check in with a local tackle shop for the latest advice.

Hazards to watch for

  • Lake has rapidly changing weather conditions - Lake Taupō is a large, exposed lake. Always get a reliable weather forecast before setting off and notify the Coastguard of trip plans.
  • River mouths have steep pumice drop-offs exist - treat with extreme caution.
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