6 Best Trout Fishing Spots In Wanaka New Zealand Rivers

Wanaka is a popular fishing spot for anglers, especially so for those who want to catch trout. Wanaka is a township with lakes and rivers, and the lake is the go-to destination for fisherfolks and families during the warmer months.

If you are looking for the best spots to fish for trout in Wanaka, you have come to the right place. I will provide you with the six best trout fishing spots in Wanaka New Zealand rivers, and in the end, I hope you can choose which one best suits your fishing style!

1. Makarora River

The Makarora River is a popular spot for fishing because it is easy to access. As a tributary, it feeds its water to a bigger stream. The Makarora river is powerful, and you will be surprised to see a mixture of runs and rivers through its course.

The thing with Makarora is that it is unpredictable. It is so because it has a large catchment, making it susceptible to flooding. During a heavy storm, you may observe trout being washed downstream.

What I recommend is that you fish early in the year. If you do this late in summer, you may find it hard to catch trout. The river is accessible, so there is a lot of pressure coming from anglers who want to catch the same fish as you. You can also fish late in the season as the fish stock is more abundant.

2. Matukituki River

Compared to Makarora, this river is much more stable or temperamental and flows down to a wide glacial valley. However, the lower reaches are unstable because of glacial flour and northerly winds. This river enters Lake Wanaka at the northwest end, and this spot is excellent for fly fishing for trout.

To fish here, I recommend that you go four to five kilometres downstream. This area has a branch confluence where you will find a stable stock of rainbow trout.

If you want to see the fish, you should go to the east and do this early in the season. The west also has some fish, but the stock is not as large as the river’s east branch.

The south end is not an excellent fishing spot, as the water is always cloudy with glacial flour. Sometimes, the south end is calm, and the water is clear. It is this time when it is best to fish for trout in this particular area.

3. Albert Burn

Albert Burn is a remote valley that is accessible via Lake Wanaka. It is still within the jurisdiction of Otago, and fishing regulations can vary here according to the time of year. You need to check the local regulations for fishing dates, the maximum size of the fish you can catch, and how many fish you could keep.

Overall, the Albert Burn is a beautiful and serene alpine stream. Here, you will find a decent stock of brown trout. Typically, the fishing season is from the first of November to the end of May. You are allowed to catch only one fish per day.

4. Hunter River

This river is a remote tributary that leads to Lake Hawea. It is an excellent fishing spot with a lot of rainbow trout and brown trout. I have to say, the brown trout here is huge. Early in the season is the best time to fish.

To get to this remote river, you can go to the Hunter Valley Station. It offers access to the shoreline of Lake Hawea where you can also find Quinnet salmon.

You can get accommodation at Boundary Hut. It is the best option for this area, and you can rise early in the morning to light fishing.

Hunter River is a mountainous region, and one can also enjoy other outdoor activities here other than fishing. One can bike here and travel to the western side of the lake.

5. Hawea River

Another tributary, the Hawea River, drains to Lake Hawea, and it is a perfect spot for anglers looking for rainbow trout heavier than three kilograms.

The river has been modified to create power. There is a hydropower plant connected to the river. Despite this, the river has maintained its power. The summer months are the best because the river flows more constantly at the lowest level.

Fishing season is all year, and you can use artificial flies and spinners. The bag limit for your catch is two trout and four salmon.

Take note that the river has boulders and deep areas. I do not advise that you wade into the river, as the rocks can be slippery. The current can also be strong under, even if the surface seems calm.

6. Wilkin River

Finally, we have the Wilkin River, which is a tributary to the Makarora. It is an excellent place to fish for trout, and it is why many anglers come here. Rainbow trout and large brown trout are abundant in this river. While most rainbows average two kilograms, the browns can reach as heavy as four kilograms.

Wilkin River is in Central Otago, and the water is shallow. It is a perfect spot to wade but be careful of soft sands. I do not recommend fishing in the lower valley. I suggest that you go ten kilometres upstream to find a good fish.

Can you fish in Lake Wanaka?

Yes, you can fish in Lake Wanaka. The southern areas of the lake have good stocks of rainbow and brown trout, along with salmon. Fishing in the lake requires a boat.

The popular fishing spots here are:

  • Paddock
  • Stevenson’s Arm
  • Glendhu Bay

The approach to fishing depends on the season. If you go to the lake during summer, you will find that the fish are in deep waters and that they typically feed in the morning and at night. In autumn, you would do well if you fish near the river mouths and tributaries where the brown trout congregate. You will also find trout on the shoreline.

Here are the ways by which you can access Lake Wanaka:

  • By road
  • By boat

By road, you must take the gravel road to Roy’s Bay. This bay is west of the town, and you can access the lake by the beach if you reach Glendhu Bay.  

There are several access points you can use for a boat, one of which is in Roy’s Bay. You can also take the outlet from Dublin Bay or Waterfall Creek. Two other methods of access are found in Glendhu Bay and Camp Creek.


Wanaka may be a small township, but there are several rivers and tributaries that eventually feed in Lake Wanaka. Some of these spots are remote, which makes them great for angling because you have less competition.

Ultimately, you want to fish Lake Wanaka itself. The lake is accessible with several areas where you can fish, such as Stevenson’s Arm and Paddock Bay.

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