More trout tourism as tourists find out about Rangitikei

Phil Teal manager of Fish & Game in Palmerston North.

Phil Teal manager of Fish & Game in Palmerston North.

The lower dollar is attracting anglers to the trout pools of Manawatu and Rangitikei rivers.

While trout fishing in Taupo is known around the world, less well known are other regions such as the rainbow and brown trout swimming in Rangitikei, Manawatu and Tararua rivers.

Mangaweka-based fishing guide, Jim Rainey has been busy with anglers arriving from the United States, Australia and Britain.

Most stay for three to four days, and some take a helicopter ride to the headwaters of the Rangitikei to fish and raft down the river.

"The American economy has picked up. And with the New Zealand dollar which has fallen, it makes it worthwhile for people to come," said Ruth Rainey, looking at Jim Rainey's bookings.

Jim Rainey guides people to fishing hot spots on the Rangitikei River, the Kawhatau River and tributaries of both.

"It isn't cheap, a $2000 helicopter ride to the headwaters, if they choose that, and then pay for a guide on top.  I suppose people who come to fish, (and we get New Zealanders too) can afford it," Ruth Rainey said.

She said her husband was busy as a guide, with a few people coming before Christmas, but many booking-in after the festive season.

Rainey said fish guiding was seasonal, starting in November and lasting until late March.

Fish and Game (Wellington) manager in Palmerston North, Phil Teal said divers were out monitoring trout numbers now, but he said they had been stable for many years and Fish and Game had no worries about food for trout.

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The divers went to about 30 rivers to see how many trout were in each.

He said although he had no research he thought trout tourism was growing.

"There are certainly no studies, but there are a lot of back country opportunities."

Teal said people were taking advantage of those.

He said many people drove past rivers and tributaries and had no idea they were good for trout.

Teal said the region boasted some iconic rivers, such as the upper Rangitikei, the upper Manawatu with tributaries to both and the Rangitikei was world renowned.

He said there were also streams which came off the Ruahine Range which provided good fish.

"Some rivers and the views are a stunning resource.  Most people don't realise how good they are and those trout fishers who do realise, guard their own spot and the resource."

Cooler, wet weather has meant good duckling survival, which in turn should mean good duck shooting come May.

Teal said it had been normal to wet in Manawatu and El Nino had not hit the east coast (Tararua, Wairarapa and Tararua) in most areas yet. But he was expecting a dry autumn in the reeast coast regions as a result of the El Nino weather pattern.

"So people haven't been as discouraged as they might have been by El Nino hitting in summer."

He said most ducks had had two waves of ducklings and there had been food for them this season.

"In a dry year, she might breed, but there is no water and no food for the ducklings. But this year there has been ground water and though not good for holidaymakers, it has been good for ducklings."

 - Stuff

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