This delightful little park on the northern side of the village of Ngongotaha near Rotorua is tucked behind auburn-coloured motels, which once comprised a fishing lodge.
It’s a real gem, snuggled into a small valley among trees and hedges on the banks of the Waiteti Stream. Bill and I spent a night there and agreed that it was one of the most serene commercial camping grounds we’ve experienced.
Nearly all of the motorhome and caravan sites are within a few paces of a deep, navy-coloured stream that drifts unhurriedly towards its meeting with Lake Rotorua. Each has its own power, water supply, sump, and night light. And, although older in style, the kitchen and ablutions block are neat, gleaming, and perfectly adequate.
The setting is lovely, but the greatest lure is the waterway. As the name of the park suggests, the Waiteti is a favourite haunt of trout that swim upstream to spawn. It’s one of one of the best trout fishing rivers in the Rotorua area.
Enter the ‘Trout Man’, the camp’s fishing teacher who provides fishing tuition at affordable prices. Harvey Clark has been fishing since he was eight years’ old. Twelve years ago, he came across a couple of young visitors who were attempting to fish for trout and saw that they had no idea of how to go about it.
“Nobody in the area taught angling at an affordable cost,” he says. “There was a niche there and I decided to fill it. I’m a teacher not a guide. I coach people one-to-one or one-to-two but never more than that.”
For holiday park guests, the course is usually two to three hours long. The first hour takes place here on the lawn where the participant learns to master the rhythm of casting. The next hour is spent casting for real in the Waiteti Stream or at its mouth.
“For beginners, it’s an easy place to learn and there is a very good chance of catching a fish. I could take people out, cast for them, and get a fish on a line but there is no fun in that. Seeing somebody learn well and catch their first trout is as big a thrill for me as it is for them. I think I’ve got the best job in the world.”
I didn’t have time to take the course but one day soon I’d like to. Harvey not only teaches the skills of angling but knows a lot about the habits of the quarry.
“Unlike the most other lakes of the central plateau, Lake Rotorua is shallow, and in the summer, the water warms up. Trout become stressed in warm water. Waiteti Stream arises from a cold spring up in the hills and where it meets the lake it offers a cool respite. Over-heated fish congregate at the river mouth and anglers find rich pickings.”
For those who strike it lucky and want to consume their catch, there is a smoker at the camp. Otherwise, trout are released to swim another day. If park guests are ready to go it alone, rods and tackle can be hired at Harvey’s on-site fishing shed.
In the slanting evening light, Bill and I walked from the camp along a leafy, well-formed path that traces the stream to the edge of Lake Rotorua. Ducks, geese, New Zealand scaup, and handsome black swans slid along the water or snugged down in the long grass that feathered the banks.
A couple of kayakers paddled past exclaiming about the luck of kayaks being part of the deal when they hired their motorhome site. Back at the camp, another camper jumped into the water from a swimming platform built into the bank.
“It’s not cold,” he shouted, looking slightly blue. I felt the water and decided he probably came from Finland. More my style was the warm spa pool or in summer, the camp swimming pool.
The holiday park is a credit to the owners, Jeanette and Michael Thorne, who have kept things ship-shape for 13 years. There is a spirit of generosity about the place. They want others to enjoy this small slice of delight and do everything to make it happen; in that, they most definitely succeed.
Win a voucher for your next holiday
The owners of Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park have generously provided a voucher for an RV site for two nights and a two-hour fishing tuition (fishing licence excluded) for two.
Competition ends 14 December 2018