Cycling the Alps 2 Ocean with a spot of fishing

Mackenzie Country and the Waitaki Basin are well known for fishing, whether this is by boat or from the shore. With a vast range of waterways from fast-flowing mountain rivers to gentle streams, the region has an abundance of trout and salmon. Dave took this opportunity to get the best of both worlds, and experience some great fishing whilst riding the spectacular Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

We did our trip over seven days with Cycle Journeys – we cannot speak highly enough of Geoff and his team. We started at Braemar Station and went to the coast.

I had vacillated about taking a trout rod but ended up taking a four-piece Sage rod with a floating line and some dry flies, droppers and nymphs. I’m glad I did – whilst I did not fish a lot it was a real bonus on the trip for me. I did not seem to inconvenience the others – although on one day from Twizel to Ohau Lodge I cycled on my own once I started seeing fish! I only carried the rod on my bike on days one and two. Braemar to Twizel on day one was miserable – it was so windy and cold I did not bother to fish. From Twizel to Ohau Lodge I carried my rod.

Alps 2 Ocean fishing advice

The best and most generous fishing information I got was from the three tackle shops/outlets on the way, plus one of the Cycle Journeys staff members at the Twizel depot.

  • In Twizel there is a small general sport shop near Shawtys Café in the village square. They were most helpful and sold me a couple of brown beetles that eventually delivered for me
  • In Omarama there is a wee tackle outlet in the Sierra Motel on the State Highway — very helpful
  • Lastly, in Kurow the petrol station opposite the Waitaki Braids Lodge steered me to the Hakataramea River!

I used a light rod, a floating line and mix between just a caddis, brown beetle or an indicator fly such as a Royal Wulff and a very small Hare and Copper nymph. However this was in December and who knows what the conditions and insect life will be when you are there.

So a quick summary of my attempts to fish

Jollie River – we did not go back to the river once we were at Braemar Station but may be worthwhile pausing for a moment there if you are going from the Hermitage

Lake Pukaki – there are opportunities to fish around the Lake Pukaki outlet, which apparently has good fish

Twizel to Lake Ohau Lodge – we had very fine, still weather along the canal and I saw lots of fish and landed one rainbow on a caddis. I unsuccessfully cast to two solid rainbows

Around Lake Ohau – it was too windy to sight fish. Apparently there is a small inlet to the lake about 20 minutes past the Ohau weir indicated by a small fishing hut near the sheltered lagoon- I missed it! It would have been good to have had no wind and I’m sure you would see trout around the banks of the lake. Once we were at the lodge I had a walk down to the lake edge on dusk, but it was too windy to see any fish

Lake Ohau Lodge to Omarama – did not bother – some good water in the Ahuriri

Omarama to Kurow – no fishing for me along the trail but at Kurow I went for a bike ride (without my rod) along SH82 to the Hakataramea River bridge — about 2 -3 kms. We sighted good fish in the Waitaki – true left from the SH bridge – and several fish in the pretty Hakataramea River.

After dinner that night I went back to the Hakataramea River pool above the bridge (access via a gate on the true left from an obvious side road). I arrived half an hour before dark and had a nice evening, landed a rainbow on a brown beetle. I was in the river for less than 20 minutes!

The next morning, a little after daybreak, I went back to the same pool and landed a very nice brown trout (less than 2 kilos) and two rainbows. I released all the fish that I caught. I did not fish again from Kurow down to the coast although the first hour or two from Kurow along the Waitaki River looked enticing.

So I had a great three hours + fishing on the trip and, if you have the right weather and time, you’ll enjoy it. The Hakataramea River has a good reputation for fish so if you get time do walk out the river from the State Highway bridge where I was fishing.