Where to we thought? New Zealand has always, always been a country that I wanted to visit. The lifestyle, scenery, history, home of the All Blacks, Lord of the Rings and I think it has some trout fishing too? So Ann agreed and we made plans, fast forward a few months and we had a work/travel visa granted, flights booked and the countdown had begun.
Travelling light was going to always be a problem. Overcome in part by wearing excessive layers of clothing on the plane ;)
Some sad goodbyes to friends and family and we were off!
Not thinking of a career change (just yet) but this made me smile a bit on our stopover in Hong Kong.
Landcruiser is in storage for the time being, could not make myself sell it........yet.
Auckland city taken from the Ferry to Waiheke Island.
Our wheels, Super Hi-ace, lift kit, bigger tyres, black rims, solar panel and kitted out for camping! ;)
Nice little runner on Waiheke Island.
On the road to Russell in the Northland
Road side hazards
The mast at Waitangi National Reserve which has the current, original and union jack flags on display, interesting referendum about to start over here on the flag change.
Cape Reinga the very north of New Zealand
On the road to Lake Taupo
Sunset over Lake Taupo, the biggest lake in New Zealand which is the remnant crater of a ferocious volcanic explosion millennia ago. Its still a very active volcanic region.
Huka Falls which flows from Lake Taupo into the Waikato river which is the longest river in New Zealand. As you can see you get Jet boat up to it!
The Mighty Tongariro river which flows into lake Taupo on the Southern shore.
My first New Zealand fish, spirited little fella and a good fish for back home but a spratt over here!
I used the switch rod fishing a lot of the Pools on the Tongariro, teamed up with the Opti Stream intermediate line in a #7. I found this river to be very suitable and approachable with a switch rod and I felt I was combing a lot more water than the guys nymphing. That doesn't mean I was catching more, not by a long shot, but I found this river to be so much fun with the switch.
Another better fish, these Rainbows have some serious scrap!
Felt like I was in BC fishing the Tongariro and indeed the fish introduced came from a strain of rainbow from the west coast of America. These fish migrate the rivers running into Lake Taupo to spawn and it really is like Steelhead fishing, looking forward to more spey casting on it in bigger water later in the year.
These fish are in a pool at the Trout Centre South of Turangi. Huge 12-14 pound rainbows with a few mean looking browns also. All moving up from the Lake in preparation to spawn later in the season. These are early fish, just to give an idea, the main movement upriver of spawners has not started yet! Unbelievable fishery and I have plenty to learn from fishing around here.
Another fish on the switch and streamer combo.
Turangi, the hub of Tongariro fishing
Back to Lake Taupo for more sunsets
The Land of the Lord of the Rings!
Close quarters fishing on the Waitahanui, another Taupo tributary.
We met up with Grant Febery who is the Loop distribution rep (hope thats an adequate title) for New Zealand and Australia. He has a very nice house overlooking a very nice Lake Taupo. He has been a great help to me since I landed in NZ.
I had a great evening in this corner pool hooking 3-4 pound fish that were chewing on a Caddis fly hatch late in the evening. I kept fishing until dark when I could only hear the fish rising, lost and landed several fish but it really reminded me of an evening back home fishing the hatching caddis flies.
On the road to our next excursion in the Te Urewera National Park.
It really is dense bush in this area, you can get lost pretty easy if you are unprepared.
The townland where we started our 9 hour trek!
Our transport and facilitator Roger and Richard White. We had some great company on the route with Mack and Craig. Great kiwis that kept us right and schooled us on tramping and bushcraft, we were fairly green going into our wilderness trek, not short on supplies and effort but lacking in the experience and all the lessons that it brings.
One of the tributaries leading into the Waiau which we followed downriver, think it is the Perihaki stream.
Got to the Central Waiau hut after around 6 hours of trekking, the route is well marked out by the DOC (department of conservation) with markers along the route to keep you on track, the bush is so thick in parts though that it can be very tricky to stick on the trail but we made it, eventually! You cannot get too lost as you can follow the river in the summer, crossing it back and forth.
We had some welcome dry wood and a stove in the hut, we had some slips on the way down so needed to dry off, which was a God send!
Trekking downriver to fish our way back to Central.
I really got into my nymphing on this river, so much streamy water that I know a lot of guys back home could only dream of, I found some super fish sitting in 12 inches of streamy water tucked in behind rocks
Into a good fish on a likely stretch, you really do need backing in these rivers as they are expansive and fish can go wherever they want! I am using the Opti stream 9ft #5 with an Evotec 85 line. The Opti stream is a beautiful rod to fish with, it just has this superb feel to it and you are very much in control of your cast and the flies as they swim.
Drying out that evening again.
The next morning saw some fabulous views of misty rolling clouds over the hilltops
Several guys were choppered in and out while we were there. Bush pilots are seriously capable aviators! The 6 hour trek did make the fishing all the more enjoyable though.
Trout love the snaggy lies with difficult access. I lost count of how many fish got off on me by swimming around snags. I learned as I went and beefed up my cast.
This is the best fish of the trip, around 5 maybe 6 pounds as is was so deep and fat. It took a dry fly imitation of a Cicada which is the indigenous cricket like bug that makes itself known throughout NZ in the summer months. Its clicking and rattling can reach crazy high levels when there is a big group of them in the bush.
We were leaving our Central Waiau camp and moving upriver, I fished as I went with all my gear on my back, It threw me off balance more than once but its surprising how quickly you get used to having it on. I didn't even think to take it off as I played the fish!
I was using the GASS 9'4 #4 rod, teamed with an Evotec 85 again, really like this line, the coating makes it go through the rings nice and easy which I always like. Again backing is a must, this fish ran me to it on two occasions with some great aerial displays.
Cicada, its about the size of golfball roughly. No wonder these fish get so big!
Our camp upriver for the night. I couldnt get a proper photo of it but I got up to see a clear sky during the night and the blanket of stars in the sky was just incredible. No light pollution out here and it makes for some stunning viewing, quite literally took my breath away.
We met up with our fellow hunter gatherers Mack and Craig back upriver, we both had some trout which were for the fire that night. Salt and pepper was all it needed and a flash on the pan.
Following the river back up to our top camp site, the water was low and suited crossings, otherwise it was an overland tramp through thick bush and steep hills.
My ever patient girlfriend Ann who embraced the trip, it was tough going for both of us but thoroughly worth it to experience New Zealand's wilderness.
A wire swing bridge over the confluence of the Waiau, one person at a time only!
Here is the confluence that creates the Waiau river looking down from the rope bridge, I cannot just remember the name of the two rivers. I could see a big trout circling around the pool below, no need for Polaroids even. I came back later that evening with a caddis fly imitation to see if he was game.
And he was game ;) this was a beautiful fish to behold in top condition. It was a perfect end to the trip.
Back to our pick up point, the trekking had become easier somewhat, I think we were reaching a new level of tramping and bushcraft, or maybe it was that our packs weighed half as much with all our food gone!
On our way out from Te Urewera forest we passed Lake Waikaremoana. Another good fishery but we were so exhausted that we could not bring ourselves to even get out of the van!
We are lucky enough to have some relations in Wellington who we could crash with and recharge for a while, Lorraine, Bruce and their family opened up their home to us and its been a great week so far.
Heading to the South Island next week to sample what it has to offer. So far New Zealand has been everything I thought it would be and more.