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If you are looking for a destination to do some serious fly fishing and somewhere where you can take the entire family to enjoy the weekend together Rotorua is the destination for you.
Michael Somerville recently spent a great weekend away with the family Fly fishing during winter in Rotorua.
One of the problems with being an Auckland based trout fisherman is the distance we have to travel for decent trout fishing. As a result, my family consider my sport to be a selfish one, since I usually head off for a couple of days at a time on my own, when I go trout fishing.
What I have been looking for is a destination where I can do some serious fly fishing and where I can take the family with me - somewhere that they can have fun and we can all enjoy the weekend together.
It would seem like a lot to ask for but I think the answer to the dilemma actually found me, is opposed to me finding it! A friend of mine was helping me with the electrical work on my new garage extension when he made the comment, "My aunt owns a cottage on a trout river in down to Rotorua. We turned up the Paradise Valley Road just past the Agrodome and easily found the cottage. The key had been left out for us and we quickly unpacked the car and settled in to the cottage. I put the kettle on and took a stroll down to the river with my boys, almost immediately spotting a trout in a pleasing lie, directly in front of the cottage. I rushed back and grabbed my rod - the coffee would have to wait! There had been a distinct lack of rain in the past weeks and already some parts of the country were crying drought! The water was therefore very low and clear, and the trout were justifiably spooky. The fish that I had seen was still there though and I carefully entered the water below it. In the low, late afternoon light I lost sight of the fish, so I took a couple of casts in the vicinity of where it had been, and moved slowly forward. It was soon apparent that the fish was long gone - probably after the first cast, or perhaps a result of over enthusiastic kids! I realised that I would have to raise my game if I wanted to catch fish in those conditions but reminded myself that someone else had Rotorua "What was that, I asked?" He confirmed what he said and I already been through the water that day, so the fish were probably immediately had him on the phone to his aunt and the foundation was laid with a booking for the first weekend after the Ngongotaha River had opened on the 1st December.
I have to admit that I have not spent much time fishing in Rotorua at all! I have spent the odd bit of time at various spots in the area but have always been a bit underwhelmed by what I experienced. Seems like I was in the wrong places! The cottage is on the banks of the Ngongotaha Stream, which is a small river, flowing over a shingle and stone bed. It flows in an easterly direction and enters Lake Rotorua at Ngongotaha on the Western shore. Despite its size, the river has a reputation for large trout and trout numbers can be very high, especially during the winter months.
On Saturday morning I was up early and got stuck into the kitchen. Fresh orange juice, free range eggs and farm bacon, with toast and fresh brewed coffee were prepared, and delivered to a rather surprised wife on the balcony. Eating breakfast in those surroundings, with the sound of the river providing the background 'music' was an experience in itself and one that was very welcomed. A friend of mine was to join me fishing for the day and over coffee we planned an action filled day for the kids with my wife.
After breakfast the family headed into town and it wasn't long before Dave had arrived and we were heading down the road to the beginning of the property. It had rained hard during the night but the river had barely changed and was still low and clear. It did not take us long to spot the first fish and to discover how spooky they were! We persevered and the first trout landed was a rainbow of around 21 inches, taken on a nymph drifted deeply through a pool. There were two other fish in the pool but they spooked as a result of the antics of the first fish. We fished on, missing a couple of fish and came to the point below the cottage where I had spotted the fish the day before. I had been down earlier that morning and it had been there again, so we approached the area carefully.
It was time for lunch and we took the distinctly civilised option of walking the short distance back to the cottage and relaxing on the deck with fresh coffee and a good lunch. It was fishing in its colonial best - the only thing missing was the waiter bringing streamside drinks to us while we changed flies!
It was time to call it a day and we made our way back to the cottage. The kids were playing with the horses and chasing chickens and generally having a great time. Dave and I sank into the comfy chairs on the deck, where we enjoyed a glass of well deserved wine with Mike and my wife, Sharmyn. Mike told me about a Maori folklore that had been told to him by Don stafford, a local Historian, when he had been seeking resource consent for the property. Apparently the spring from which they get their water was used by ancient Maori, from where they could hear any approaching war parties coming in from the Mamaku plateau. The water from the spring is very pure and has been dated as being about 70 years old. Mike was pleased to say though, that despite several attempts, all he had been able to hear was the water, which was rather reassuring, as I could imagine that a war party would have a rather detrimental effect on the fishing! We fired the gas barbeque up and enjoyed a meal on the deck, soaking up the sights and sounds of the bush; the evening light bathing the landscape in a warm glow.
The 'Cottage at Paradise' (www.cottagesatparadise.co.nz) had provided me and my family, with one of the best weekend breaks we had enjoyed as a family in a long time. Owners Mike and Sharon work hard to ensure that the cottage is immaculately maintained and supplied with all the mod cons and comforts of home including Sky tv. Breakfast ingredients are provided to allow guests to enjoy breakfast at their leisure. The setting is unparalleled, with park like grounds leading to the river and plenty of space for the kids to run around.
The proximity to the attractions of Rotorua means that there is something for the whole family and it is wonderful to be able to quickly access those attractions and the amenities of a town, while being only a short drive away from peaceful seclusion.
Article extracts taken from New Zealand Fishing, “A weekend in Rotorua”, written by Michael Sommerville. Please visit the Cottages at Paradise website to read the full article.
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