July 07, 2020
Trout were introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800’s. Brown trout were introduced into Tasmania in Australia first and then once established there were brought to the South Island of New Zealand. In the late 1860’s the first browns were released in the south and began to take hold.
Rainbow trout were brought from western North America (probably from British Columbia) and introduced a decade or two after the Browns. The first Rainbows were introduced to lake Taupo in 1898.
Chinook Salmon were also introduced but form a much smaller population mainly in the south island rivers that drain into the ocean from around Kaikoura southward.
There are Rainbows and Browns in both Islands now but the prevalence is for browns in the south and rainbows in the north. Lake Taupo and lake Rotorua hold large numbers of rainbows as do the associated streams and rivers that feed into or drain these lakes. The main rivers that hold large trout and act as spawning grounds for Lake Taupo are the Tongariro, the Tauranga-Taupo, the Waihatanui, the Hinemaia and the Waikato. For Lake Rotorua they are; the Nongataha, the Waitete, the Awahou and the Hamurana. There is also the Ohau canal that connects Lake Rotorua and lake Rotoiti. Browns are also to be found in both lakes and connected waterways.
Trout are also prevalent in the majority of other lakes and streams in the North Island south of the city of Hamilton. There are some small populations north of Hamilton but no real quality trout fishing.
In the South Island there are large populations of mainly brown trout in the areas around Blenhiem, Nelson and Murchison and between Murchison and Hanmer Springs there are also some fantastic fisheries. The more well known rivers include; the Motueka, Wairau, Wangapeka, Owen, Buller and Maruia. Fishing East and North of Christchurch can be less productive but south of Christchurch and down the West coast there are numerous quality fishing opportunities.
Angling pressure and repeated flooding in some of the South Island waterways, along with the spooky nature of Brown trout has made it more challenging to catch large specimens in recent years. The larger numbers and aggressive nature of Rainbows has continued to provide a more action packed experience in the North.
Author: David Turner