Species
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Destination Type
Lodge
Fishing Style
Dry Fly, Sightfishing, Wading
Season
October - April
Fishing Days
4 - 10+
Rate
$$
Why We Go
  • Experience one of New Zealand's iconic lodges, established in 1982 by guide Tony Hayes
  • Fish with some of the most experienced guides in New Zealand
  • Enjoy gourmet dining in an unpretentious and friendly setting
  • Choose from fly-out fishing or road-based fishing
  • Trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and visit Tongariro National Park
  • Experience high catch-rate rainbow fisheries or more technical trophy fisheries
Overview

It was scarcely more than an experiment. One fateful day in late 1883, Malcolm Ross’ wife, Forrest, knelt along the banks of the upper Tongariro River and released a small bucket of fingerlings. Back then, no one even fantasized that these tiny Sonoma Creek steelhead would produce one of the world’s most prolific rainbow fisheries. Today, the Lake Taupo fishery is estimated to hold over one million fish averaging four pounds. More remarkably, its prime tributary, the Tongariro, hosts 70 percent of the system’s annual spawning migration. It is no coincidence that legendary New Zealand outfitter and angler Tony Hayes built his lodge on the banks of this remarkable system.

The mighty Tongariro is just the beginning of what makes the North Island’s angling experience so spectacular. With superb heli-fishing, adventuresome backcountry angling, and over 30 fishable rivers — many of which are chock-full of large, feisty rainbows — this area yields some of New Zealand’s most impressive specimens and catch rates. Guests at Tongariro Lodge enjoy well-appointed cabins with private bathrooms and fine cuisine is served in a main lodge. With horseback riding, hiking, rafting, golf, and natural hot pools also available to guests, it is easy to see why we consider this lodge a must for anglers and adventures alike.

Fishing Program

Anglers staying at Tongariro Lodge have a multitude of options available, beginning with the famous Tongariro River which flows steps away from the lodge. The upper stretches of the Tongariro are accessed via raft and these trips provide access to otherwise unreachable water. On the lower stretches of the Tongariro, the annual cicada hatch provides shots at large, wild brown trout on dry flies. In addition to the Tongariro, there are many other wilderness rivers that can be accessed from the lodge. Utilizing helicopters and 4x4 vehicles, anglers can reach remote streams that see few anglers.

There are a few exciting stillwater opportunities available, but the vast majority is done on foot and is primarily sight-fishing. Guests should expect to cover several miles each day while trying to locate fish. Once spotted, a game plan is devised between the angler, guide, and angler who awaits the next fish. Anglers who can cast accurately with very long leaders (sometimes 12 feet or more) while under pressure will find great rewards. The guides at Tongariro Lodge are all Kiwis, are some of the most experienced in New Zealand.

Accommodations

Tongariro Lodge is located on the banks of the Tongariro River adjacent to the southern shores of Lake Taupo. The year-round outdoor playground of Tongariro National Park is only a short distance away. Established in 1982, the lodge has an excellent reputation for the finest accommodations, gourmet dining, quality outdoor activities and the very best in trout fishing guides. Guest accommodations are separate from the main lodge. This ensures maximum privacy. Riverside chalets range from one to five bedrooms. Each chalet has private facilities and its own secluded sunny terrace with views of the Tongariro River, Lake Taupo, or the mountains. Tongariro Lodge has developed an international reputation for fine food and wine. The lodge specializes in serving the best of New Zealand game and traditional foods. The true atmosphere of the lodge is best experienced in front of an open fire over a four-course evening meal as the day's activities are recounted - and the stories get taller as the evening wears on.

Additional Experiences

A variety of activities are available to guests at Tongariro Lodge. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is nearby and is known as New Zealand’s finest one-day walk. This full-day trek covers some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. In addition, guests can experience white water rafting, heli-hiking, hunting, caving and glow worm tours, farm tours, fantastic golf courses, and local hot springs.

Itinerary

Tongariro Lodge has a flexible schedule. Below is a sample of our perfect week at the lodge.

Day 1: Arrive Taupo, New Zealand. In Taupo you will either pick up a rental car and drive (approximately 45-minutes) to the lodge or be picked up by the lodge’s shuttle driver. Once at the lodge the manager will show you to your room and then you will have time to relax before dinner. At dinner you will meet your guide who will help you get set up with gear and go over the plan for the following morning.

Day 2: Taking a 4WD vehicle to one of Tongariro’s private access rivers. These are high-numbers streams with eager, mid-sized rainbows.

Day 3: Raft the upper reaches of the Tongariro River. This is a white-water wilderness stream with good numbers of hot, healthy rainbows.

Day 4 and 5: Take a helicopter into one of Tongariro’s backcountry gems. These are trophy sections of river where the fish average seven pounds. This is an overnight trip using a very basic backcountry hut for shelter. The pilot drops off the anglers, guide, and all food and equipment for two days at the hut. The first day is usually spent walking downstream then fishing back up to the hut, followed by an evening around the campfire complete with a hearty meal and New Zealand wine. The second day is spent fishing upstream from the hut and at the end of the day, the helicopter picks everyone up for a spectacular ride back to the lodge.

Day 6: 4WD into a hidden bush-clad stream in the nearby area and spend the day walking and presenting dry flies to large resident rainbows and browns.

Day 7: Finish the time at Tongariro with another helicopter flight to a small, trophy trout stream.

Day 8: After breakfast you will drive or be transferred back to Taupo to catch your flight.

Rates & Details

2024-25 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 7 night/6 day package: NZ $7,515
  • 6 night/5 day package: NZ $6,370
  • 5 night/4 day package: NZ $5,225
  • 4 night/3 day package: NZ $4,080
  • 3 night/2 day package: NZ $2,685

Included: Accommodations, meals, guided fishing, all necessary tackle and access fees

Not Included: Airfare to/from Taupo, round trip transportation to the lodge, optional fly-outs by fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, fishing license, gratuities, alcohol

Season: Year-round

Fish Species: Rainbow trout, brown trout

Lodge Capacity: 12 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? Anyone will enjoy Tongariro Lodge but a guest that can hike 3-5 miles per day and can make good presentations the first time will have better success at Tongariro Lodge.

Where is the lodge? Tongariro Lodge is located on the North Island of New Zealand. The lodge is situated near the southern shores of Lake Taupo on the banks of the Tongariro River about forty minutes by car of the city of Taupo.

How do I get there? To get to Tongariro Lodge guests need to fly to Auckland (AKL) and then to Taupo (TUO), New Zealand. Once in Taupo guests will need to either rent a car and drive roughly 40-minutes to the lodge or take a shuttle for a fee (paid on site). Most international flights to Auckland arrive early in the morning and currently only two connecting flights are available to Taupo from Auckland, one landing at 9AM and the second at 6PM. The lodge asks that you contact them when you arrive in Taupo to schedule your arrival and all guests should plan to be at the lodge after 3:00PM.

When should I go? It is possible to fish year-round in the Lake Taupo Region, but the main fishing season runs from October to May with December through March being prime time. From December to April raft fishing is available on the headwaters of the Tongariro River.

How will I fish? All fishing at Tongariro Lodge is walk and wade with the majority being sight fishing with nymph and dry flies.

Is there wade fishing? Yes. All fishing is walk and wade fishing.

Where will I fish? The lodge fishes the home waters of the Tongariro River and over 40 rivers and three lakes in the Lake Taupo region.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? The Tongariro River is at the lodge’s doorstep, but most fishing grounds are 30-minutes to an hour away by either car or helicopter.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? The rivers around Tongariro Lodge are primarily rainbow and brown trout fisheries.

How many fish will I catch? The fisheries of New Zealand are a quality over quantity fisheries. Landing 3-6 fish over the 18” mark would be considered a great day.

Will I see other anglers? It is possible to see other anglers or hikers. If guests are helicoptering to the backcountry or raft fishing the head waters of the Tongariro River they will most likely not see another person.

What are the guides like? Guides at Tongariro Lodge are some of the most experienced in New Zealand. They are all safe, calm, and accommodating.

What are the physical demands? To be most effective, it is best if guests are able hike and walk three to five miles per day.

Are there any special skills required? Not really, but if a guest can be accurate with their first cast, control the line during the drift and listen to their guide they will have much more success at Tongariro Lodge.

Does the lodge provide equipment? The lodge suggests that anglers bring their own favorite fly rod and reels, along with rubber-soled wading boots (felt-soled boots are not allowed in New Zealand) and Gore-Tex waders that fit well and they are used to wearing. Tongariro Lodge guides can provide all flies, leaders, and any equipment the anglers do not have.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? In the summer we recommend a fast-action multipurpose 6-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line and a 15-foot leader. In the winter we recommend a fast-action multipurpose 8-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line and a 15-foot leader.

What are the top flies? The lodge recommends the use of local fly patterns provided by our guides, although some American dry flies (in sizes 12 to 14) are popular — including Royal Wulff, Elk Hair Caddis, Humpy, Irresistible, Stimulators and Cicada imitations.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? The lodge monitors the weather daily and in case of high wind or unfavorable water condition they are very flexible on where they can fish. The lodge has access to over 40 rivers across the region that their guides can fish and can often find good weather and water.

What is a typical day like? The head guide will touch base with all clients the day before to discuss guest expectations and wants, then pass the guests on to the individual guides. On fishing days, the guides are on site at 8AM for pick up will go straight to the river. Lunch is served riverside and usually guests are back at the lodge at 4:30PM.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? The lodge is warm, comfortable, and laid back with an emphasis on the rich fishing history of the area. The heart of the lodge has comfortable lounges, open fires and trout fishing trophies of the past adorning the walls.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? Yes. The front desk is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Meals are served at the lodge. The folks at the lodge strongly believe that the enjoyment of local foods and wine is an integral part of a visit to the Taupo area. Breakfasts are hearty and fresh; picnic lunch is provided on the river and four course dinners are provided in the lodge dining rooms. Dinners are always served with fine local wines.

What is the alcohol policy? Alcohol is not included in the packages. Alcohol is available for purchase at the lodge.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? Guests will stay at the lodge where there are three different options for lodging: one-bedroom chalets, two to four bedroom villas and a four bedroom executive villa. All accommodations have terraces with views of the mountains and direct access to the river via Tongariro Lodge private land.

Is there internet and/or cell service? Yes. There is high speed Wi-Fi in all the lodge accommodations.

Are there other activities? Yes. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is known as New Zealand’s finest one day walk. It is about an eight-hour trek across some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. In addition, guests can experience white water rafting, Heli-hiking, hunting, caving and glow worm tours, farm tours, fantastic golf courses and local hot springs.

Are there any other expenses? Guests will need to purchase a New Zealand fishing license and arrange transfer to the lodge. Helicopter and alternative activities will have onsite costs. Please contact Fly Water Travel for rates.

Do I need a visa? Most visiting guests to New Zealand do not need to acquire a visa but will need to buy a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) and pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). A NZeTA can be acquired for NZ$ 9.00 if you use their ap or NZ$ 12.00 if you do it online. The IVL is purchased at the same time and costs NZ$ 35.00.

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? No, but guests have the responsibility to disclose any dietary or medical concerns to Fly Water Travel or lodge staff before arrival onsite. We recommend that guests always consult with the US Department of State and the Center for Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.

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