This small spring-fed river has a bed of gravel, sand and small rocks. Its banks are lined with regenerating native bush, along with patches of blackberry. Due to its spring-fed nature, the river often remains fishable after heavy rain - even when other rivers and streams are too discoloured to fish.
Its small size and discreet pools make it a pleasure to fish. Lighter gear, gentle wading, accurate casting with good presentation, are the keys to success here. It fishes well for spawning rainbows during the winter, but is also famous for the very big brown trout which venture into the river every autumn.
Public access is limited in places, and anglers must use specific entry points and stick to the tracks. The mouth and lower river are readily accessible from SH1 in Waitahanui. The middle sections can be accessed by walking upstream from SH1, or from the carpark at the end of Blake Road. From here, a track system with footbridges allows anglers to navigate the river and access manty excellent fishing spots.
The clear water rewards anglers who focus on good presentation. Advances in fishing tackle technology means good quality 5 weight gear can often offer the presentation required yet still provide the power to control a lively fish. However, if targeting larger fish such as autumn browns or early winter rainbows, we advise a more robust set up.
Nymphing is the most popular technique used on the Waitahanui, although the river can also fish very well on the dry fly in summer. A carefully presented wet fly can be deadly at times, as it allows anglers to place flies in places other techniques struggle to reach.
Check in with a local tackle shop for the latest advice.
Hazards to watch for
- River has clear water with deceptively deep pools, and is also swift.
- River mouth has a steep pumice drop-off.
- Tracks have erosion directly above SH1 bridge and occassionally fallen/falling trees in strong winds.