In February 2016 three guests (inmates) at the Tongariro River Motel, John Porteous, Paul Gandell and Murray Cullen, were lucky recipients of the Manager and the Laundry Slave’s generosity in winning a Tongariro River rafting trip.
Now, two years later the three have come together again at the same esteemed hostelry quite by chance.
No raft trip this time but tall stories of the fish caught then will be shared.
The average catch on the trip will now have expanded from 10 per angler to at least 20, with the smallest fish (40cm) now being at least 50cm.
The first photo shows the trio setting off from Turangi having first obtained a plentiful supply of sandwiches from the Turangi Bakery and Pie shop (the best pies).
The raft was launched from the Rangipo Dam and then the magic journey began.
The scenery was spectacular as was the fishing.
Murray had the honour of landing the first fish but just as quickly John was hooked up
Then Paul joined in the action
Along the way we stopped at several pools, surveyed the runs then chose our places.
The last stop was where the Whitikau joined the Tongariro. This lovely little side stream called for a cautious approach and John caught the first fish.
Paul was next to have a go under the watchful eye of John.
All fish caught were released.
Soon after we were joined by a happy bunch of rafters with both them and ourselves being collected by the efficient Rafting New Zealand team.
Murray does not appear in any of the photos as was in charge of photography (so TRM added him below).
The three of us had a fantastic time (thank you Ross and Pip) and would suggest anglers put this trip on their bucket list.
However, keep in mind Upper Tongariro River raft fishing trips can only be done during the open season (1st October to 30th June).
Tonight is reunion night with a TRM banquet…
Following is Paul’s report:
(Sorry Paul’s pics would not load? Operator error again! So we added some images of the culprits from TRM library)
Trip Report – Raft Fishing the Mighty Tongariro –
Monday 15th Feb 2016 by Paul Gandell
The alarm went off at 6:15 am … finally the day had arrived … the holy grail for all Taupo Acclimatisation District fly fishos … Today I was to fish the upper Tongariro a stretch of river only accessible by water and in this instance on a superb raft and with a skilled guide from Rafting New Zealand.
After a quick breakfast I pulled on my waders and boots grabbed my rod and headed out the door of my excellent accommodation at TRM to hook up with my rafting/fishing buddies John and Murray.
A quick stop at the Turangi bakery (they open at 5:30 am!) to stock up on lunch supplies and we were knocking on the door of Rafting New Zealand’s base at 7:00 am. A very surprised Pianika Boddington, co-owner of the company, appeared and informed us that 7:30 am was the usual start time. We said we were a tad excited and didn’t want to’ miss the boat’. She smirked as she made us all a wonderful round of flat whites.
Shortly afterwards Jimmy appeared and introduced himself to us as our rafting guide for the day. Before we knew it the efficient team at Rafting New Zealand had loaded up the raft and we were on our way.
Entry point was just below Poutu Intake and it didn’t take long for us all to man handle the raft down the track from the car park and into the water. Jimmy gave us an excellent heads up on the trip ahead and of course a succinct safety run down … import for BOF’s. So with the river running at 16 cumecs, some 14 km of river gorge containing around 50 something grade III ish rapids and corresponding pools we were off!
We were in an oar boat which meant Jimmy would do the heavy lifting … an oar boat is definitely the way to travel when the prime objective is fishing. I was designated “rod boy” which meant I sat behind Jimmy on the edge of the raft hanging onto 3 rods in one hand and piece of rope in the other … yup … there were times when it was like being a cowboy at a rodeo trying to ride a frisky animal! John and Murray were at the front of the raft and served as ballast under the excellent orders of Captain Jimmy … this prevented us tipping over and minimised getting stuck on rocks in shallow sections of the river.
We probably stopped and fished at between 10 – 12 pools on the journey. Jimmy who has worked for Rafting New Zealand for 4 years knew the river like the back of his hand … some 800 runs and counting. It was like he had a personal relationship with every rock, overhanging branch, water swirl, cliff etc etc. He gave us a brief run down on each rapid as we approached from its name and history through to the path he was going to take. This was kind of important for the “rod boy” as I needed to be able to quickly make adjustments to rod angles to ensure rod lifetime warranties would not have to be evoked! Jimmy has done a number of fishing trips and being a fisherman as well was quick to suggest pools to stop at … we enthusiastically took his advice
At the first pool we stopped at the bet was laid down … the BOF who catches the first fish of regulation size has to shout the first round of single malts. Despite being a bit overcast the cicadas were chirping madly so it was pretty obvious how we would rig up for the day. Well it didn’t take long for Murray to get his eye in with a couple of pocket rockets and then wham … a nice 2.5 pounder. The scene for some fierce competition had been set. In the next pool Murray struck again and John got on the board. I was starting to get a bit worried! In the 3rd pool I finally got on the board with a couple of larger pocket rockets that performed well.
The day continued with drifting through slow water looking up at amazing primeval gorge walls covered in beautiful native bush, exhilarating runs down rapids and fishing pools, side streams and riffles.
What was truly amazing was the ferocity of the strike. In one tiny spot on the downstream side of a large rock my cicada barely touched the water on my first cast before being engulfed by a solid 2.5 rainbow … stunning stuff.
I ended up with 6 for the day and I am pretty sure both John and Murray hit double figures.
We finally emerged from our adventure at Blue Pool at around 5:30 pm.
It was a magnificent day and one that I will remember for a very long time. A special thanks to Rafting New Zealand for donating this trip to TRM, thanks to TRM for drawing me out of the hat so I could enjoy the magic of this very special place and finally a big thanks to Jimmy, a great guide.
If anyone is contemplating a fishing raft trip the shooting the river with Rafting New Zealand and enjoying the fine hospitality of TRM just can’t be beaten.