Tongariro River

by | Oct 14, 2019 | What's Happening

Below: Aidan landing a Tongariro rainbow trout

Back in April, shortly after Aidan turned 16, we treated ourselves to a whole day’s fishing with a professional fly fishing guide on the Tongariro river. The guide picked us up early morning from Taupo and drove up to the back of Turangi – who promote themselves as “the trout fishing capital of the world”. Ever since Zane Grey fished the river in the 1920s and immortalised it in “Tales of the Angler’s Eldorado”, the Tongariro has a reputation as a world-class trout river. (Most of the book otherwise covers the ocean fishing in Bay of Islands, just north of where we live.) After many years now in New Zealand, fishing the Tongariro was something I also just really needed to do. In Zane Grey’s words; “Far away Tongariro! Green – white thundering Athabasca river of New Zealand! I vowed I would come again down across the Pacific to fish in the swift cold waters of this most beautiful and famous of trout streams. It is something to have striven. It is much to have kept your word.” –

We had a glorious day with our guide Peter and we both caught rainbows. I was mainly fishing with nymphs and dry flies while Aidan mostly fished streamers. Beautiful area with the volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro just to the south. Just a few weeks earlier my younger son Finn had walked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with his uncle Gregor. Aidan walked the crossing a couple of years earlier. It is located within the Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. When my good mate Geir and his better half Ingrid visited from Norway some years ago, they also walked the crossing. Updates about Geir’s pointer breeding below.

Aidan with a rainbow caught on wet fly

After some nice free diving in April and May, for crays and spearfishing, it had been three months since we were in the water until the last weekend of August entered September. With that came a new scallop season and we’ve been out a few times for this. The last time yesterday, where my better half Hayley also jumped in with her oldest boy Aidan. The week before Aidan and I had a cray dive up in the far north and he did well finding some packhorse crays in a deep crack. A couple of weeks earlier Aidan and I also spent a day fishing in the Bay of Islands with his mate Dylan and father Mark. Dylan and Aidan also jumped in for a speardive and found some crays.

Frank-T with a rainbow caught on dry fly

Geir B. Larssen, who has done great with the breeding of his
Norwegian Barentsvidda pointers (heavily based on Italian
blood lines), currently has pups from Barentsvidda’s Wind
Cries Mary (pictured above).
Packhorse crayfish off the BBQ below.

Wind Cries Mary (Titan – Barentsvidda’s Mafia) has previously produced a great litter with Barentsvidda’s Nansen (Anter – Giga). This time she’s been on a trip to France and was mated with Led-Zep de l’Azur et Or (Mose del Sargiade – Ekta de l’Azur et Or). With this he gets more of Ribot della Noce into his lines, as well as his sister Romina. But he also gets in the great Milord di Groppo and his sister Mia di Groppo. They were by Hardy do Bois des Perches (sire of Geir’s foundation bitch Giga) and Iala del Celo (Ardito del Vento – Rumba del Galoppatore). In addition to this Mose del Sargiade’s paternal grandmother Jaga was similarly by Hardy and Tess (Ardito – Bimba del Celo). Great lines and it will be very interesting to see if these offspring can continue the quality of previous combinations. From Wind Cries Mary’s previous litter (with Barentsvidda’s Nansen), Geir’s own Barentsvidda’s Little Wing has just become Norwegian Champion. Personally, I really think Nansen should have played a far bigger role in Scandinavian pointer breeding. There’s still time…

There’s been a couple of interesting English setter litters downunder, both in NZ and in Australia. Both with imported Italian setters and some of my Northstream breeding (Attwood, Aragorn & Alinghi). While I have found myself in between dogs, it has mainly been Aidan who has been pursuing the hunting. He’s brought home ducks, hares, rabbits and goats – which is good going for a young teenager! We still managed to get out for some quail shooting but I will be much more involved again next year.

A couple of pics from July shows the remains of a pheasant we came across in the forest. While we don’t know exactly how it ended up like that, a good guess would be that it was left behind by a hunter without a good retrieving dog. It’s a waste but obviously something that can happen. However, there’s a different practise amongst some New Zealand hunters which is harder to accept. That is hunting without appreciation of the animal you kill, where only parts of it is taken for food. If you go to the length of hunting down a wild deer, pig, goat, thar, chamois it is mind boggling for people only to bother taking the back straps – or in some cases just a trophy – and wasting wonderful resources. It is also disrespectful and doesn’t do anything positive in the face of the anti- hunting brigade. It might have something to do with a past tradition of culling large numbers of animals in remote areas, as government pest control. It is an odd attitude though to be passed on to recreational hunters and would be more of a case of laziness and lack of education.

As mentioned, there is also a tradition of culling animals out of necessity. Most significantly it has been and still is of possums. The common brushtail possum was introduced to NZ from Australia (where it is protected) in the 1850s. The possum thrived in the NZ bush conditions and has become a major agricultural and conservation problem, at some stage reaching numbers estimated at more than 60 million possums. The numbers is now likely less than half of that. Poisoning has been widely used, controversially both with cyanide and 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate). The opposition to the government use of 1080 has been steadily growing. A lot can be written about that and the widespread distribution practise in New Zealand has not been similarily anywhere else in the world.

There is also better practises of possum trapping, both in organised forms and by private individuals. Aidan has also done his bit of trapping possums for fur. A commendable initiative by a teenager!

Last month we mourned the passing of family friend and NZ legend Wade Doak. A diving pioneer, marine conservationist and provider of endless inspiration. One of New Zealand’s early underwater explorers with his friend Kelly Tarlton. His best friend during his young teaching years, Sam Scatchard, was later best friend and hunting mate of Hayley’s father Des. I read some of Wade’s books before we got to know him. He has been called “New Zealand’s Jacques Cousteau” and was instrumental in setting up the Poor Knights Marine Reserve. He had David Attenborough turn up unannounced for lunch. Hayley, her sister Melanie and Aidan got to know him as a wonderful mentor. He will be missed and remembered as a man who really wanted to make a difference.