Enjoying a summer evening on the Tauranga-Taupo
Image: Kim Turia | DOC


The second biggest river in the region and, for many anglers, the best the area has to offer. The mixture of easily fishable runs and more challenging water accommodates different skill levels and a variety of styles.

Fishing seasons: lower reaches: 1 July to 30 June; mid-upper reaches - 1 December to 31 May

The Tauranga-Taupō originates on the western face of the Kaimanawa Range and flows westward towards Lake Taupō. It journeys through native bush before entering exotic forest and finally discharges into Lake Taupō at Te Rangi-ita, on the eastern shore of the lake.

It's a small to medium sized river, with a bed of gravel and small rocks. Above the winter fishing limit, the river enters a long deep gorge on private land, where access is limited. Above the gorge the river enters the Kaimanawa Forest Park and public access resumes. Good summer fishing is available as far as the scenic Tauranga-Taupō Falls, which acts as a natural barrier to migrating trout. Fishing is not recommended above this natural obstacle.


Access to the mouth and lower river is easy achieved near Te Rangi-ita. The middle sections can be accessed from a signposted carpark just south of Te Rangi-ita on SH1. From here, anglers can follow a track upriver along the southern bank, with good access to excellent pools and runs along the way. Anglers can navigate up-river to the winter limit - a walk of about 5 km.

Access to the waterfall is via a series of unmarked tracks at the end of Kiko Road. This area is best left to those with local knowledge, as it’s easy to get lost.


Being a small river the Tauranga Taupō can be fished with lighter tackle than the Tongariro, and many choose to fish with a 5 or 6 weight. Nymphing is the most popular technique used here, although it can fished very effectively in summer with a dry fly.

Despite its small size, wet fly fishing can be deadly on this river, as it allows anglers to place flies in spots other techniques struggle to reach.

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

Hazards to watch for

  • River is prone to flash flooding.
  • River mouth has a steep pumice drop-off.
  • Tracks may have significant erosion after flash floods, as well as tree debris and fallling tree limbs.
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