The Hinemaiaia River | Manic Guide To Fly Fishing In Taupo

  • DISTANCE FROM TAUPO: 20kms / 20 minutes drive
  • ACCESS: Easy
  • FISHING SEASONS: Lower river July 1st to June 30th – Upper river December 1st to May 30th
  • SPECIES: Mostly rainbow trout with short runs of brown trout
  • GEAR: A standard 9ft six weight rod and floating line will cover most bases


The Hinemaiaia is a small, bush-clad stream that has a big character. Draining from deep in the Kaimanawas the fishable length of it feels much like a bush fishing experience, occasionally punctuated by a logging truck rumbling down state highway one overhead.

Well-tracked and with plenty of parking available it’s an ideal stream for learners, the less mobile, or those who just want to take it easy while they catch a fish or two.

The Hine sees the best quality fish come early season with the chrome bows moving out of the lake in good numbers around May/June. It’s a top to bottom spawning stream, and only being 6k’s to the dam means the fish spread out, build a lot of redds, and stay concentrated in the river for longer.

Later in the season you can fish for large numbers of coloured-up fish and the odd fresh one running through, and by summer it’s all on with mending fish chasing down cicadas and terrestrials as they work hard to build condition again.

The flow of the stream is regulated by dams above the fishing limit so, at times, it can be running fairly clean but fast and almost wall to wall, conversely it can be surprisingly skinny and concentrate large groups of fish into tiny pockets. This is helpful when a lot of the other rivers in the region start to flood, and when the Tongariro is unfishable the Hinemaiaia can get very busy indeed, even seeing the odd familiar face who would usually turn their nose up at the prospect.

Hooked up In Hatepe

The Hinemaiaia rivermouth is also popular and can fish exceptionally well as fish park up and wait to move into the river at night. It’s a shallow mouth so you can fish this with your same river floating line to keep things simple and is an epic way to round off a day’s fishing as the bite comes on with the change of light and amazing sunsets.

As the quality of the trout has improved drastically over the last decade, so has the angler traffic on the Hinemaiaia. What used to be the last-ditch effort stream for anglers to get a fish on the board before the weekend wrapped up, is now a lot of fisho’s go-to spot.

And why not? Hatepe has a good range of accommodation where you can just walk out the door in your waders and in get stuck into the fishing, and at the end of the day you’re nowhere near as beat up as you might be after a day boulder hopping on the Tongariro.

It’s a social atmosphere, a fun river to have a wander around, and a great way to keep things very casual indeed.

Social fly fishing in Hatepe




Drive to the end of Rereahu Ave and you’re there. Best fished over the morning and evening change of light, or when the weather has turned and there’s a fresh running. Generally, it’s easy wading and light gear fishing, and some very, very good fish can turn up here.


Park up at the end of Hinemaiaia lane and, if you’re feeling bold, you can fish the entire length of the Hine from this starting point. This section is quite varied but mostly consists of short, snaggy pools. So use heavy flies, stay in contact, and be mentally prepared to lose some gear. The daybreak fishing through here is worth it though as you’ll catch the fresh fish unawares, until the sun is up that is.


From the bridge up to the winter limit is where the bulk of the fishing happens on the Hinemaiaia. Generally speaking, there’s four access points, and you can either walk/fish between them or focus on a section and then drive to the next one to save the walk back.

The first access is actually on the north side of the SH1 bridge and is a section of well-defined spots to hop in for a quick drift through some likely-looking water. To get back onto the true left track from here you’ll have to sniff out a crossing and meet up with a new(ish) section of track.

Then there’s First Car Park, Second Car Park, and Water Supply Car Park – with the latter being the most popular. My advice is to just park in the spot that has the least amount of cars in it and go for a look.

We all end up with our favourite spots on this river but it seems that every bit of water here is capable of holding fish and these spots can change from day to day. So sure, have your favourite honey hole that you race to every time, but if it’s occupied then that presents an opportunity to have a bit of a dig around in some zones that people aren’t hammering, and you can yield some great action this way as the fish get pushed out of their usual lies by heavy angler activity.


This is a bit of a mental barrier for a lot of people as it seems like as soon as you get past the winter limit (marked by the very obvious Cliff Pool) the human traffic dies down and the bush-clad, wilderness vibes get turned up a notch. The river changes character slightly through this section with more channels and riffles, punctuated by some nice pools. Wet wading for some summer dry fly fun up here is an ideal way to spend a late afternoon.


In general, the fishing can be described as short and sharp, with small pools and quick drifts not requiring the long-range mends of the Tauranga Taupo river or Tonga. Using flies with weight means you’ll be in the fishing zone quicker, and with the small pools this is very important to making the most of the water in front of you.

Some days can feel more like rigging than fishing with plenty of riverside vegetation to grab an errant cast or a perfectly placed submerged log that you can't help but try and drift your flies past.

It’s safe to say that the Hine can hold fish in most places but the obvious areas to target first are sight fishing the tails, dredging the short and fast deep slots and pockets, and methodically working over slow deep pools.

Fly selection is pretty simple. You'll want a heavy sz10 or sz12 tungsten fly to get down and run glo bugs or sz14 natural variants of Hare & Coppers, Pheasant Tails and caddis. The Manic range of euro flies are ideal for the Hine.

Indicator nymphing on the Hinemaiaia


Nymphing is the most common method on the Hinemaiaia and a 9ft six weight set with a floating line is all you really need. If you’ve only got a five weight then that’s fine, likewise a seven or eight weight. They’ll all work but a six weight is ideal for throwing some heavier flies and battling a fish in the fast currents without fatiguing your casting arm.

Depending on the depth of water, you’ll run a leader anywhere between seven and nine feet. Don’t be afraid to shorten things up to help maintain contact with your flies and indicator in the shorter, faster water. The takes from these fish can be very quick and you should be ready to strike as soon as your flies hit the water.

Regardless of how you prefer to affix your indicator, the main takeaway here is go small to reduce drag and avoid being spotted by fish.


Euro or Czech nymphing is the Hine trout’s nightmare. On any given day you’ll bump into a euro nympher who is well into their double-digit session and it all comes down to being able to drive those flies into the eat zone quicker, and rely on feel, rather than sight, to know when a fish has eaten.

Being able to work the small pocket water and slots more efficiently and effectively than nymphing is a serious game-changer, and it’s a growing cult on the Hine.

Euro nymphing on the Hine


This is a fun one when nothing else is working or you just want to try something different. Chuck on an intermediate polyleader, some 12lb fluoro, and a woolly bugger and swing under some trees, in the tails, or hard up against the banks. Basically anywhere it’s tough to get a nymph to drift well.

You’ll be targeting fish that probably haven’t seen a fly today and you’ll want that heavy tippet to lock up on them as they try to take you for a walk downstream.


There’s nothing better than grabbing your rod, fly box, spool of tippet, and a few cold ones and heading to the Hine for a casual, late arvo, dry dropper session in summer.

There’s plenty of fish about to spot and wet wading is always a treat. Early afternoon it’s all about terrestrials and sz16 nymphs, and then once the sun dips you can pull out those sz16 Adams and get classy with it. And as for people? You’ll most likely be the only one there.


As we touched on earlier, the best times are dawn and dusk – that classic change of light time that’s universal for all types of fishing. A rod between 9ft rod is fine, but a 9’6” helps get a little more line out there when you’re waist deep in the rip.

A simple floating line rigged with 7ft or so of 10lb tippet and a woolly bugger or rabbit streamer in a range of colour options is a great place to start, and come night time switch into some lumo patterns or black flies.

Start with a slow, figure eight type retrieve with pauses and strips thrown in and then switch it up from there until you start getting some hits.

Dress warm! When that sun goes down your core body temp goes with it.


The Hinemaiaia can get really, really busy. That’s to be expected on a river so close to taupo and with such easy access. One way to take the combat out of combat fishing is to just get in the river and walk. Avoiding the usual drop-in points and trying to locate a little nook where you can have some fishing to yourself is pretty fun and it’s amazing the little “secret” spots you can come across.

And if you see Didymo Dave out and about then throw that man a beer and some thanks for all of the effort he puts in keeping this river clean, accessible, and low on pests. A true kiwi legend.

Didymo Dave


Tailing loops, bad knots, and trout strikes on kingfish are part of Chris Sharland's ever-growing repertoire of fly fishing skills. Thankfully he makes up for it by being ok at some other stuff that we find useful from time to time.