Lake Tarawera rests some 18 km to the east of Rotorua. It is the largest of a group of lakes which surround Mount Tarawera. The lake covers a surface area of some 42 square kilometres. It is approximately 10 km across from west to east. Lake Tarawera trout fly fishing is highly regarded for its big rainbow trout that can weigh as much as 7 kgs (15 lbs) plus.
At times Lake Tarawera is picturesque in the extreme with its deep dark water and bush covered hillsides overlooked by the towering peak of the dormant Mount Tarawera volcano which rises to an impressive 1111 metres above sea level. At other times the lake can appear cold, desolate and windswept particularly when the wind is from the south.
Mount Tarawera Eruption
Over the past one hundred years, Lake Tarawera has become known as a constant producer of trophy-sized rainbow trout. But the name Mount Tarawera is perhaps better known to New Zealanders as the scene of a devastating volcanic eruption some 124 years ago. Just after midnight on the morning of 10 June 1886, Mount Tarawera famously erupted spewing smoke and ash thousands of metres into the sky. The eruption began with a series of violent earthquakes followed around 3.30 am by a massive explosion that could be heard as far away as the South Island. This led to the destruction of the Pink and White Terraces which even at that early date were attracting tourists from overseas. The massive surge of gas and rock fragments devastated several villages within a 6-kilometre radius. The death toll was in the region of 120 people.
The Deepest of the Rotorua Lakes
Lake Tarawera has the greatest mean depth at 56 metres and the greatest volume of water at 2.3 cubic kilometres of all the Rotorua lakes. The deepest part of the lake goes down to 88 metres. Surface water temperatures rise and fall significantly with the seasons; in winter dropping to 12 degrees C and in summer reaching as high as 22 degrees C. Lake Tarawera trout fly fishing and harling requires a sinking line to get down to the fish. It is all a matter of finding where the fish are, and at what depth.
Not surprisingly with such broad seasonal temperature fluctuations, and a deep lake, much of the trout fishing in Lake Tarawera is done from boats; which are better suited to fishing at greater depths by deep trolling over summer – when fish will be deeper. Lake Tarawera has a well-deserved reputation as a producer of very large rainbow trout between 4 and 7 kgs. The really large fish seem to be fewer in number over recent years. It is certainly fair to say that in terms of numbers, if not size, most of the fish caught in Lake Tarawera are taken trolling and harling. A boat also greatly improves access to stream mouths such as the Waitangi and Wairoa.
Local Fishing Guide: Lake Tarawera fishing guide John Hamill Cruise and Fish offer experienced local guides and fishing charters.
According to Fish and Game, about 65 percent of the Lake Tarawera catch is made up of fish that have spent the first year of their life in the hatchery and the remaining 35 percent are fish from wild spawning. There are abundant populations of smelt, bullies, koura and aquatic insects such as dragon and damsel flies in the lake for trout to feed on. Such a plentiful food source means that the trout grow quickly.
Boat fishing information “fishing for success”. Handy 8 page beginners guide to successful boat fishing for trout including jigging, the thermocline and lure selection.
Two page black and white Lake Tarawera pamphlet with basic chart.
Video below: Fly over Lake Tarawera
Video: de Havilland Otter – Lake Tarawera by John Christie