Nothing makes one feel freer than flying a line, lonesome or not, into one of New Zealand’s many beautiful fishing spots. And while the country itself is known for its ocean offerings, it’s the east coast that’s piqued our interest.
Though oft overlooked as one large coastline, the Bay of Plenty is populated with a plethora of unique and serene spots suitable for even the most novice of anglers (read: us).
Moturiki aka Leisure Island aka Rabbit island aka Marineland
Accessible by foot, kayak, boat or time travel, Moturiki—a tiny island connected to Mount Maunganui—is the sitting duck of tourist destinations. Yet it’s the back of the island that harbors a wide variety of fish. Formally a ‘Marineland’ “aquarium” in the seventies, now you can (sociably and responsibly) net your own collection of fishy assets.
It’s high tide and high time you clued in on Pilot Bay's biggest open secret that literally no one is getting in on. Hidden between the Warrior Statue and the south mount jetty at Pilot Quay is an oasis of John Dory and Snapper where no one would consider throwing a line, but Mount Maunganui’s best do. Go gaga in the shallows after 7pm, or 6am if ya nasty, like the rest of ‘em.
Railway bridge Matapihi
Stretching out beyond the famous Harbourside restaurant (nee Tauranga yacht club) is the most sought after and controversial spot in Tauranga—the Matapihi railway bridge. Legit currently considered tapu, and rightfully so, this is the only way to re-live Trainspotting through the lens of Tauranga. If you’re hellbent on some Kingfisher then this might be up your alley (be warned: it’s a narrow alley).
Kewpie Kruise is licensed: what more do you need to know? Pilot bay, accessible by all, used by few, is a full day if you please. Pack your berley (we call ours Elizabeth Berley) and spend the day genuinely believing you’re isolated from the world. Expect a ton of snapper and trevally and the occasional kingfisher. It’s shallow waters so you have to travel north of the island to protect yourself from harmful (sting) rays.
Deep between the Matahi and Toatoa ranges lies the Waioeka river famous amongst the more adventurous trawlers. Flowing north to Opotiki, this fishing belt doesn’t just give you all the eels, it’s a rainbow of trout, over the top views and lush relaxation. Despite being between a major thoroughfare for the Bay of Plenty, Waioeka still feels stunningly pristine.
If you're keen to keep the back to nature vibe going, why not plan a stay at one of Tauranga's best camp sites.
Image credit: Anders Wideskott