Poronui and Tongariro, New Zealand Destination Report
Max Salzburg January 29, 2024
The November trip that I had to New Zealand was absolutely off the charts good!
I helicopter fished 5 of the 7 fishing days, all 4 days at Poronui, and one more from Tongariro. While at Tongariro I spent two days driving from the lodge (one on the Tongariro River and one on a smaller "secret" spot).
At Poronui I was paired up with a younger guide from Vancouver Island, Sterling, it was a good fit and he took me on "adventures" each day. Sterling was able to take me to sections of rivers he said no one had fished for 3-years because of both covid, and that they usually don't get many guests that can wet wade/hike these sections of rivers safely. We had some days where we caught so many fish we had to sprint up the canyon and river for over an hour straight in a full river sprint to make the helicopter pick up on time (running past more massive trout left and right but no more time after already catching way too many). At Poronui we fished the Ngaruroro, Mystery, Taharua, and a tributary of the Rangitikei.
I had a hand full of 10-pound + fish where we had to run 100- to 300-yards down river, wet wade-swimming-sprinting across pools to fish fly line out from massive boulders, fish still peeling line down river through the next rapid, and still somehow landing trout of a lifetime after a full on 15-minute river rodeo.
The day we went to Taharua we walked approximately 6-miles of river and didn't see a single fish, nothing. So, we pulled the plug early back to the lodge and spent the last two hours of the day on the home waters of the Oamaru River at Poronui. This ended up being amazing and Sterling and I stalked about 5 German browns on dries, got eats and landed beautiful fish right before dinner that night to save the day.
We found out that night from other guides a massive pumice stone cliff had fallen into the upper stretch of this river recently, but no one knew about it prior. We had noticed tons of small pumice particulate in the river while hiking up it. All the fish must have moved out of the system due to this reason. Still had a blast that day and finishing up with some tricky spring creek style dry fly action on the Oamaru was perfect really.
The other three days from Poronui were some of my favorite days fishing ever. Hiking, canyons, wet wading so we could swim sections if needed, crazy fish, big chases up and down the rivers to land fish, too many big fish, dry fly eats and wet fly eats.
I also really loved Poronui lodge, staff, food, Sterling as my guide, and I was able to go on three 3- to 5-mile runs on the property dirt roads, and work out in a gym they have on the property to help shake off the travel. It was perfect for me.
Both days by car at Tongariro great, way too many fish, slightly lacking in any form of challenge for myself and preferences. I might have been able to black out and still catch 20+ 18- to 22-inch fish in a morning. Great spot for beginners or for a spot with my son when he is just barely old enough to fish.
The one day I flew from Tongariro we went to the Rangitikei and was a knockout great day. I think I landed 4 fish over 10-pounds, with a few more in the 8-pound range, and plenty more in the 5- to 8-pound range.
So crazy how big the fish are in this river in nearly every pool we hiked past. We hiked a long way up and then had to reverse all the way back down to the same pick up as drop off point at the end of the day. It was awesome! Had a bit of everything, dry eats, wet fly eats, chases, swims, crazy takes, and stalking at times.
Experience one of the finest sporting lodges on the planet.
Fish one of New Zealand's iconic and longest standing lodges, established in 1982 by legendary guide Tony Hayes.