|New Zealand 1997|
We departed Hobart airport at 6.15 am bound for Auckland on the 23rd April, 1997. On this trip I was accompanied by Brian Osborne and Wayne Dick.
We arrived in Auckland around 5 pm on the 23rd April, 1997. As Brian and I were here on our second visit to this wonderful country we decided to pick up the hire car ( a lesson learnt after the first trip) and drive directly to Lake Taupo stopping at Hamilton for tea. As I was nominated the driver, the boys took the opportunity to catch up on a little sleep. This visit we were staying with John MacDonald and his family. We arrived around 11.10pm, and as usual the welcome was warm and friendly and after unpacking the bags we were dragged kicking and screaming to the pub, arriving home around 3.30am, talk about your big days!! John had changed jobs since our last visit and now skippered the 'Supa Cat' owned by Chris Jolly.
The following day, as you can imagine was a slow one. Brian and I showed Wayne around the township of Taupo, and unfortunately ran into 'Digger' (see first story). After the obligatory welcome drink we decided it was time to head to the Lakeland Hotel where the weigh in centre for the 20th Annual Lake Taupo International Trout Fishing Tournament was based. We had another long night, by this time Wayne was wondering if we were ever going to do any fishing, Brian and I did warn him.
Friday 25th April the 'boys' looked worst for wear after their night out. The day was a little overcast, typical competition weather. We decided to drive down to the Tongariro River to try and get a fish to weigh in. We dropped into Nick Walls (Chiefs) home at Waitahanui to say hello, and with their usual hospitality soon organised a 'Hungy' for later in the week. Something every one should try. On arrival at the River, Brian fished the Breakfast Pool while Wayne and I decided to head up river. We fished some great water, and I eventually hooked into one, but as usual the strong bugger broke me off. Despondent and fishless we arrived at the weigh-in at 5.15pm to witness some beautiful specimens being pass over the scales
The next day we drove back down the lake to look at the Hinemaiaia and the Tauranga Taupo Rivers. They were both magnificent rivers, with big pools and clear water. We never came across any trout to cast too, but flogged a few wets around for awhile with no success. The Tongariro was next stop. I walked for hours up the river and ended up at the Hatchery. Again we ended up fishless, as did most anglers. We were told they need more rain to entice the trout up the rivers. On our return to the weigh-in to look with envy at the magnificent fish that were being weighed. During the presentation Brian was presented with a Bungy Jump Voucher. I have to tell you, Brian went 'White", but he accepted it. Unfortunately for me the very next day I was called up on stage and they presented me with a Tandem Sky Dive Voucher, now I know how Brian felt. Now I ask you, would you jump out of a perfectly good aircraft?? Guess who had the last laugh!! Brian also went on to win a random draw prize, a brilliant Kilwell Rod, Reel and Line valued at $800.
April 30th and as it turned out 'Macca' was a very keen hunter and invited us into the bush to hunt Seeka Deer. We spent a couple of nights in the huge Elm Forests, and I can tell you 3 little Tasmanians were very pleased to get out of there. Especially Brian who had turned his ankle slightly walking in. No wonder Helicopters are very popular in New Zealand, it took us about 5 hours to cover around 4 klms. After a quick shower and tea we decided to drive to the Waitahanui River and fish the Rip. Finally fortune favoured one of our group. Brian caught a beautiful four and three quarter pound Rainbow.
The next couple of days we searched for new fishing spots at the Tauranga Taupo and the Tongariro Rivers, we have found these rivers to be very well populated with anglers and very hard to fish a hole by one self. We saw a few nice fish and witnessed a lucky angler land a trout, but as usual we had no luck.
The 4th May and 'D-Day' for Brian. Yes the day he has to make his 47 metre (152ft) Bungy Jump. This would go down as the funniest day in my life. Poor Brian is not the bravest man I know (great candidate for Who Dares Wins!!), but to his credit he musted up all the courage he had and try to give it a go. He went through the ritual of having the bungy cord attached to his ankles (with sweat pouring off him), and shuffled to the end of the jump platform. Well my friends, that is were he stayed for the next half hour!! He couldn't take that final plunge, so Wayne stepped up and used Brian's voucher and upheld the Tasmanian Honour and took the plunge over the edge. (Silly Bugger!!) Brian was still shaking as we took him to the bust stop a couple of hours later, he had to head back to Tasmania today.
May 5th and today was to turn out one of the most memorable days fishing on the lake I have experienced. We arrived at the 'Supa Cat' at 5 am. The morning was very foggy and calm as we headed out to an area called the 'Reef'. We started the morning on lighter tackle doing a little bit of Harling, which is a popular technique of trolling a fly in shallow water at first light. The gear we used from the boat was a small boat rod with a length of sinking line and a long tippett. We had no success so John decided it was time to use the down riggers. Down riggers were also new to us on this water as they had been only been recently introduced. It wasn't long before we had our first fish on the deck. Then another and another. We ended up losing 6 trout, released 2 and kept 15. all the trout averaged around the 5lb mark with the heaviest being just over 7lbs. All this by 11am, and of course a Kiwi being a kiwi had to have a couple of beers to celebrate the mornings fishing.
The next couple of days were devoted to showing Wayne a few tourist sites such as the Huka Falls and the Craters of the Moon, a huge area of volcanic activity and boiling mud pools. We even tried the Waitahanui River rip once again, but the fish were being very elusive. The following day we ran into the Chief's son who gave us directions and information regarding fishing the Tauranga Taupo river mouth on evening. (Nothing beats local knowledge) The fish were very quiet for a long time, but finally persistence paid off and Wayne had a hit. Unfortunately the fish got off again. Next it was my turn, I had this huge strike and the next thing the trout with my line and backing in tow decided to head to the middle of the lake. I managed to retrieve my line but the trout had other ideas and went for another run. I again retrieved my lost line only to have the fly come free close to my feet. As it was dark I had no idea how big it was, but by the large thuds and surges I knew it was a big one I had just lost.
Thursday 8th May and today was our last chance to land a big trout, as our time had run out and we had to head back to Auckland tomorrow. Before we headed off fishing we had promised to give Kirsty (John Jone's daughter) a few fly casting lessons, and it wasn't long before she was throwing a good line. We arrived at the mouth of the Tauranga Taupo River at around 9.30pm. We were only there for half an hour when Wayne finally got one to stay on the hook and landed a very nice 3 lb Rainbow. I also managed to get one into the bag, a little smaller, but a fish. Around 11.50pm and with only 10 minutes of legal fishing allowed, I hooked into another large trout on a luminous leech pattern again. (great fly) My heart was in my mouth as I wanted to land this one after last nights loss. Finally after a 7 or 8 minute struggle I bagged a beautiful seven pound ten ounce trout. A great finish to the trip.
As I said we had to drive back to Auckland the next day, but as you have just read I have some wonderful memories of New Zealand and hope to return again in the near future. I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences...Tight Lines!!