Judges Pool

2013 UPDATE:

TRM’s photos as at September 26 of the improved access track and steps to Judges Pool below…

Judges Pool access trackSteps down to Judges PoolJudges Pool steps2013 UPDATE:

The images indicate little change.  The anglers access from up-river is indicated – take the old tourist track and the access to the head of Judge TRB extends from that.  Still a reliable pool – if Mike Hughes doesn’t beat you to it.  Beyond Judges Pool the TRB split side channel is running out of water but still holds feeding fish in the shallow riffles.  Definitely worth a flick if you wade up that way from the road bridge.


2012 Update –

Update June 2012 – this is mainly to acquaint anglers with the new access track.  Take a deep breath or make a cup of tea as this requires more than the usual explanation.

This new anglers access has been cut from the river walk between the road bridge over the hill towards Major Jones Pool and the swing bridge at the end of Koura Street.

This new track will be particularly beneficial to anglers heading down river after discovering the Major Jones pool is too crowded?

Most of your challenge will be to find the entrance off the tourist track!

Walking down river on the TRB from the Major Jones pool there is a new pumice track going off on a dog leg to the east while the old track continues straight ahead.  There is a single easily overlooked marker pole with a small DoC angler emblem to mark the deviation.  The new access down to the pool is about 50m along and easily missed.

Alternatively walking south from the road bridge after crossing over the hill and enjoying the wonderful view – did you find TRM amongst the trees? – the track flattens out and crosses a small bridge over a drain.  Just past that is the old overgrown anglers access track straight ahead while the new pumice track veers off towards the farm land.  OK – head directly ahead for another 100m or so.

So now you have found the new cut track you need to follow that back down river for about 150m where it emerges at the head of Judges Pool.

There are some younger fitter eager fishos (Hi Mike) who might still prefer wading up river crossing over twice – see the 2011 update below for more details.  This is understandable to try and beat some other anglers using the more civilised track route.  However my guide – Boof – will not walk or wade under those cliffs so we always take the more scenic tourist route.

The river route also gives them the opportunity for a quick flick into the deep pool under the cliffs on the corner – known as either Lonely Pool or Sportsmans Pool depending on which school you went to.

The latter is more historically correct as the Lonely Pool was located in the other bypass on the TLB.

Some others may still prefer to slip down the higher steeper bluff where a rough as guts route forced through the undergrowth has been available for the last few years to then walk up the dry creek bed under the cliff.

That option is still available and is definitely considerably shorter from the road bridge end.  But our recommendation is the new track.

You are warned however that the bypass on the TLB is now pinching more than half the flow and looks like it will continue to deepen with its own lies along the RHS or island side.

If this is all too confusing it will hopefully make more sense when you walk (aka waddle in waders)  it.  (Otherwise do not hesitate to phone Tongariro Fishing Guide – Mike – ph. 021 023 85008 after 10pm.)

So from the old tourist track along the TRB the new roughly formed and scrub cut trail leads down the ledge at an easily walkable grade and through a corridor of ugly wader-hooking overgrown secondary growth and then through some nicer native bush to emerge

OK – All that above is just to find the entrance to the new track.

It is not dissimilar to the old older track that used to proceed through a menacing tunnel of blackberry but – as indicated in the images – is much wider and the entire 150m is easy walking in waders.

The Judges Pool has also changed completely since that track became overgrown.

The new access emerges on the sandy patch at the head of the dry stream bed so it is an easy walk across the boulders to the eye of Judges Pool.

This pool should have a sign in big letters saying FFF.

Fish Feet First!

The big voracious browns often sit (?) along close to the shallow river edge – usually right where the wet liners wade out to scare them off.

Also it may be worth crossing the tail to have a look at the bypass down the TLB where some good looking new lies are evident.

If that appears too challenging then cross over the shallow riffles at the head of the pool to aim for a couple of flat patches above the main Judges Pool rapid.

This might seem like a lot of trouble but Judges pool in past years has been so reliable the effort is well worthwhile – particularly if you are first through the pool.

Judges Pool is one of the pools within closest walking distance of TRM so it gets more than the usual level of attention.

Moreso since the Braids dried up and every weekend SWMBO has to re-direct lost anglers looking for a new Honeypot.

This may be it…

It is suitable for everyone.

Both (or either?) wet lines or nymphing are effective..

That is probably why Mike perseveres with a deadly dry and dropper rig…

A great pool and worth your closest inspection.

(View below of TRM only just visable hidden in the trees)

View below over Judges Pool from track – looking up river on 12 January 2012:

2011 Update:

Judges Pool just keeps changing.  We cannot keep up with the TRB which is the favoured side for casting. Access by wading up from TRB of main road bridge, cross over to island before the deep corner pool and wade back again to TRB.  Take a wading pole as the stones get slippery.  The TLB accessed from Te Aho Reserve is only recommended if you are desperate as it has too many snags.

The view across Judges Pool has changed significantly with the removal of wilding pines along the TRB (True Right Bank).  The pines have been removed off the knoll and the track realigned to provide good views over Judges pool.  Now anglers can view the Kaimanawas in the distance.  Thank you DoC.  The established route to the TRB of Judges Pool is by wading up river from the road bridge on the TRB, wade across below the cliffs to TLB, then cross back again to TRB around the corner beyond the Lonely Pool.  An alternative is to walk the track from the bridge over the hill and at the base of the hill find the faint track to the head of Judges Pool.

2010 Update:

All Town Pool and Lower River Pools are likely to be subject to major physical changes in 2011 as the result of substantial river bed works for erosion control & flood protection with a resource consent application for up to 150,000 m3/year to be removed from below Hydro Pool to the Delta.

Refer to comment below by the Advocates for the Tongariro River:

Tongariro River Gravel Extraction Consent

December 7, 2010

There has been much interest in the Advocates position on the Gravel extraction consent which has been applied for by Environment Waikato.

Turangi experienced a 1 in 100 year flood in February 2004. The flood of 1958 was slightly larger and caused much damage within the river environment. Should another flood the size of 1958 or 2004 return then Turangi is in danger of flooding. Apart from moving the town to another location which is not a realistic option, the town can be protected by increasing the size of the stop banks or removing material that has built up and which endangers the town.

Given this option the Advocates support the removal of gravel and volcanic ash from the river bed to assist the river to move the bed load through to the lake. We do however have reservations about the consent document.

Our concerns are:

1.       The action is piecemeal and not part of an overall plan for the river. Our desire is for an Integrated Catchment Management Plan (ICMP) to focus on the whole river and not just a section of it. We want to see an ICMP.

2.       The consent period is for 35 years. We see a period of 3 years as reasonable at this time.

3.       The consent document is too broad and lacks detail. Many who have seen the document think that 150,000 cubic meters per year will be removedeach year  for 35 years, which is not the case, but can be read into the intent of the document.  There is concern at the meaning of “diverting the river from the area of the Hydro Pool” by many.

4.       The river as a fishery is seen as threatened by many. We don’t see the threat given that the fishery was not affected by the gravel removals at the time of the construction of the town and again recently when some 30,000 cubic meters were removed. We wish to see the consent spell out more strongly the protection of the fishery

The full consent document can be read by clicking on   ftp://tongarirorivapps:PrUkcflx@pubftp.ew.govt.nz

It is a big document and takes time to load.

The Advocates will make a submission on these points and other such as an opportunity to dredge the mouth of the river. If you wish to make a submission then it must be with Environment Waikato by the 17th December.

An opportunity exists for you to give us your opinions through this website and we would welcome your opinions.

Eric Wilson





2009 Update:

Following blog by fishing guide Andrew Christmas:

(Note: Judges Pool on left of photo is the closest pool to TRM on SH1 corner Link & Taupahi Roads…)





(Note the new surge wave now developed in the middle of the pool)

This weeks pool report is filling you in on the latest of a pool which last summer was fantastic for me and I spent over 70% of my guides on, this was the famous Judges pool.

Last summer season this pool was fantastic with both nymphing for summer rainbows and dry fly with big Cicada patterns when they were in full force. I was lucky enough to guide in here on most occasions and we very rarely came back without a fish or two on the bank.

The Judges has changed a lot in the past ten years and those of you who fished it years ago will remember it to be very different to what it is today.

This pool holds a huge force of water and is one of the pools of the Tongariro which is prone to changing with every flood. Sometimes this pool will change dramatically visually and it is obvious that where you fished on your last trip will be no good this time with rocks and curents all moved about. Sometimes the judges looks fine and you nymph or wetline your favourite part of the pool and hook up a solid snag on your first cast which was not there last time.


As all the water in the Tongariro must pass through this pool and has no bypass nor braided piece it is prone to having trees or logs left in here which turn into fly hungry snags.

Currently my favourite which is the true right is almost un-fishable as the winter floods have wrecked it for nymphing and you will loose plenty of flies in here. Dry fly will be fine in the summer.

The Judges is a very good holding pool for fish on the move and generally you will always be able to pull something out of here with enough patience and the right method.

Fish are usually still very fresh when they reach here and are generally schooled up in good numbers if they have moved in from a fresh.

Brown trout live in here for quite sometime in the summer spawning months and this is one place I will target them when they are about, especially on the dry and dropper.


(Photo taken this morning with angler in the top spot – but look out for snags…)

If you look back at some of the big browns that my clients or Mike Hughes caught last year 70 % of them would have been from here. Paul Dyson who is forever famous and features on this years fishing permit caught that wonderful fish while fishing with me on the true right of the Judges pool.

Most of the pool is very good for holding fish and you will have good sessions on both the true right and the true left depending on your casting ability and sense of adventure. I prefer the true right as fish seem to sit just off the current and quite close in on that side and the length of the pool gives plenty of time to muscle fish out of the current and into the side. Nymphing and wet lining can be performed but as I said this side is quite hard to fish at the moment as it has some terrible snags that need removing.


The true left is also very good at times and is the perfect piece of water to wetline as it is quite deep close to the bank and has a good strong rip following it which fish like to follow up. Nymphing is great as well but you need to be a good caster not to get caught up in the shrubbery behind you on your back cast.

I remember fishing from this side not so long ago by walking out on the rocks here for ten metres in my gum boots and not getting wet, this is how much it has changed. The river really channels down this side and when fishing the tail of the pool many fish are lost down river as eventually a rapid will stop you from following any further.

Fishing is good throughout this pool and you should always start at the tail and work your way when nymphing or using the dry as fish will be where you least expect them, especially those feeding in surface film in the tail of the pool.


(Dee Taylor from Hamilton with a fresh run rainbow from head of Judges landed in dirty weather when river is running high)

Access is pretty easy to both sides of this pool but one is a darn site easier than the other which makes the true left far busier usually with anglers. If you wish to fish on the true left or simply can only fish here due to mobility issues you can almost park at the pool by following the road down Te Aho Street (opposite TRM) and parking in the turning circle at the bottom.

There are a few tracks heading down to the river and by following one of these you will always hit the river and see the Judges pool.


True right of the pool is a little more tricky but still very easy if you know the way and you have the fitness to walk for 15 minutes or so through uneven ground.

I park my truck at the north side of the road bridge and begin to walk the true right of the river under the Cliff with those horrible pine trees.

When you have passed that pool without being squashed you will see a fairly worn track heading into native scrubb which will again wind it’s way up on the true right of one of the by pass running out of the main Judges pool, eventually after ten minutes you will come out on the rocks of the Judges pool.

Most of the time if you are reasonably early you will be yourself and have first lines in this pool, as most anglers will fish the true left to avoid the hike.


There are a few other ways to get to this pool but these two are by far the preferred way and easiest on everyone. I suppose if you are feeling adventurous and you find yourself in the Major Jones and want to walk down you can access this pool from crossing the Major Jones bridge and taking the track down the river on the true right.

This again will take ten minutes or so and then you will come across a track which diverts of the main track and down to your left or right depending which way you are coming from. This track is fairly steep and fairly rough and was overgrown with blackberry and the last guy I saw pop out on the river bank after using this had a broken rod and looked like he had come across a tiger in there, I don’t advise this way. (Ross from TRM prefers another access further along at the base of the hill where he drops over the bank as Boof refuses to walk up under the menacing overhanging cliffs.)


This pool holds a lot of potential and should always be looked as one of the more productive pools in the Tongariro in all conditions for all methods. This Labour Day weekend will be busy on the river.

So if you are out and about lets get out early and don’t forget your river manners.

Till next week-Tight lines

Andrew Christmas


Judges Pool 2008

Update Rating (out of 20) = 16

(Rating adjusted August 2008)



19 September 2008 update from Daily Report: … Another increasingly popular pool lately is the RHS of Judges (photos right & below).Previously TRM’s report explained with photos how to get there using the river side tracks down the RHS from Koura Street swing bridge or upfrom the main road bridge.Since then anglers have asked about wading up the RHS from the main road bridge?.
This alternative has been preferred by others lately – hence this update – to walk and wade up the RHS river bank from the main road
bridge. Advantages are the additional fishy looking pools on the way and a flick in the old Sportsman’s Pool on the corner – see photos.
But do not under any circumstances look up or you might lose your nerve. If you have seen the high pumice cliff crumbling above you would understand why Boof prefers to use the established walking tracks for access – despite the additional distance.
27 August update: The LHS bypass (?) to the road bridge is now carrying more than the original river course. Judges Pool is better on true RHS with access from the track below Major Jones Pool. Latest photos below are to assist identifying the access which leads across the small bypass on RHS. This can also be accessed from main road bridge leading over the Lonely Pool.
(Photo – August 2008 – left looking down beach on RHS – easy wading, no snags, worth the trip!. The best lie seems to be at tail of pool)
(Photo right shows entry to access off RHS riverside walking track beside large pine tree – many anglers report missing this access.)
(Below left – Guide dog finds his way through the blackberry framed track to river)
28 May Update: (Copy & paste from fishing report on 22 May -)Pics today from Judges Pool are provided as further indications of the many changes you can expect to other pools. TRM will have to update all their pool reports. Warning to Pip – this will most likely take ages and ages – great!

But back to Judges Pool – this pool is special being the closest to TRM within 2-3 minutes walk in waders for a quick flick before brekki.

The only consistent feature about Judges Pool are Jimmy & Jenny – resident Paradise Ducks. (Boof is frightened of Jimmy.)

WG still has dreams about the old Judges when you could drive to the edge of the bank from Te Aho Street.
It is one of those pools which keeps altering the character of the lies every year. Just when you think you finally have it sussed the river bottom moves around to spoil your secret spot.

Some of the changes are evident in the new stone beach exposed with the old river edge marked by the grass verge. The extended beach has narrowed the channel considerably and increased the flow which now features standing waves. So far we lack real fishy evidence from TRM inmates to comment on whether this has improved fishing? It has certainly limited the available beach for casting from the LHS.

The true RHS is definitely looking more promising but is handicapped bymore difficult access. The current swirls in an “S” pattern from the RHS above the island to much closer along the LHS which will make it easier for short casters (like MF).

Above the main pool on the LHS is the bypass – photo right – above Judges Beach – which you thought nobody else knew about – which produced so well when the river was running over 40 cumecs. Bad news – it is now back to a quiet backwater with hardly any flow at all.

Another indication of the extent of changes after the flooded period is from the bypass on the LHS below Judges Pool, leading directly to the main road bridge.

This is like a new stretch of water which is below the river walk and must have reduced the main channel through the Lonely Pool under the cliffs. It has at least doubled in volume as seen in pics above and below.”


22 April 2008 Update:

The flood on 15 April rose to over 500 cumecs and will have affected many of the pools and river crossings. So take care!
Pics below were BEFORE the April floods – compare above – Left photo looking down river on LHS and right photo looking up river over the by-pass back water)
Photo above illustrates the potential of this quiet little bypass. At the time the Tongariro River was flowing at about 60 cumecs.
After a flood the trout sneak into here to get out of the pumice laden main flow and are easy pickings. When I took this photo on 3 May there were three trout landed in five minutes… But keep it to yourself!
The top of Judges has changed with another new island forming above the riffles. Generally Judges Pool area, from below the road bridge up to the old Island Pool, continues to suffer from excessive silting up after each flood.
The local Turangitukua Committee advised in 2007 they intend to remove all the sand and metal from the river above the road bridge up to the old Island Pool. This will dramatically affect this part of the river in the future and may partially restore the flow to the pre 2004 flood conditions.
Tuwharetoa advise negotiations with EW (“Environment Waikato” ) over many years in respect of the deteriorating state of the river and the danger of flooding Turangi have resulted in them taking this initiative. So watch this space…
Access:Close car parking is available in Te Aho Reseve, Judges Pool has good access from the LHS and the RHS can be accessed by wading above the shallow rapid above the pool. August 2008 update above – access from the riverside track – see photos.

Judges Pool – August 2006 Update

(Photo at right taken from river loop track on RHS – July 2007)

We take notice of experienced veteran anglers, (Hi to Hugh Latimer from Auckland) who have written to warn how other pools often took a full season to settle down and recover after flood damage, before they became productive again. i.e. Admirals Pool went through this transition, from being barren in 2005 to produce well in 2006.

(Signage at the end of Te Aho Road leading to the Recreation Reserve providing parking for Judges Pool)
So back to Judges Pool area. This interesting new pool/run/reach above Judges deserves its own identity.
So we refer again to the 1928 river map prepared by Barbara Cooper, where this run on the RHS below the old Island Pool was originally known as Doctor’s Pool. (Judges Pool was then located further down towards the old Lonely Pool)In anticipation of this pool settling and developing into good holding water for the future, we have replaced the original pool name as Doctor’s. Watch this space…
Access this area by wading directly across from where the Judges track emerges, (about 300 metres from Tongariro River Motel!) off the end of Te Aho Road, at the head of Judges Pool, where the main flow switches from the RHS to the LHS. These rapid “rifflly” ripples are well worth a flick, particularly in bright sunny conditions when the trout hold in the rapids re-oxygenating (?), if there is such a thing (?) cooling off, hiding from anglers (?), who knows why.
(Note: February 2007 – this runalong the LHS above Judges Beach has suffered from further silting and does not hold the number of migrating trout as seen in 2005-6)
(Te Aho Reserve parking area – a delightful setting for the river side walk up to the Birches swing bridge or down to the road bridge or the round trip)

Judges Pool – 2005 Report

Tongariro River Motel (TRM) have chosen this first as it is the closest pool and one of the most regularly visited Town pools available. Judges Pool was one of the most reliable classics for many years but changed considerably after the 2004 flood.Guides like to introduce their clients to fly fishing the Judges as it had good close vehicle access, easy level walking approach, plenty of room for back-casting and can be wet lined or nymphed with equal success. 4WD vehicles were often previously parked on the stoney beach beside the river but in April 2005 this access track to the lower pool area has been blocked off. The main foot track to Judges Pool from Te Aho Reserve is where trees and debris from the 2004 flood were buried)

– Judges is a well regarded pool and has a strong following. The main advantages are easy access (particularly from TRM!), plenty of back-cast space, and equally suitable for either nymphing or wet-lining..

Updated Pool names and information sourced from the booklet by Barbara Cooper – “Pools of the Tongariro”.

Note that on the 1928 river map Judges extended further downstream to the Groin Pool immediately above the road bridge.

Named after Judge Ostler, appointed King’s Counsel in 1924, knighted Sir Hubert in 1939. His sporting interests not only covered fishing but also deerstalking and big game hunting in Africa. He owned one of the first houses built in Turangi in the river area that was then called Taupahi

Photo right illustrates the corner location of TRM with the island above Judges Pool beyond.
NOTE: Pool Reports for the Tongariro River are prepared from guest/anglers experiences. As such, Tongariro River Motel do not accept any responsibility for the opinions of other anglers who are traditionally acknowledged liars about their best fishing pools.