The Waiau River begins in the Spencer Mountains along New Zealands Southern Alp Range Northwest of Hanmer Springs. Much of the river flows through relatively inaccessible country through steep gorges complimented by long stretches of braided river. The Waiau River is considered by many to be on of the few remaining "wild" brown trout fisheries in New Zealand.
Excellent brown trout are found in the upper reaches of the Waiau where double digit fish are not uncommon. These fish present a superb challenge and are reknowned for testing the skills of the very best of anglers. World Class fly fishing can be found on the Department of Conservation managed St James Station.
Further downstream towards Hanmer Springs, the river is more suited to spinning, as the river becomes bigger. When the river is low, however, fly fishing becomes excellent, especially in the quiet pools where the trout are feeding. Both dry and wet flies work well, with the wet Peveril of the Peak or Coch-y-bonhu type patterns suitable around dusk.
Salmon are fished from Parnassus in its lower section. The Waiau has a river mouth that is inaccessible to foot-anglers. The Salmon run gets under way generally around mid-January and continues till about mid-March.
The rivers which flow into the Hope River include the Upper Hope, Boyle, Nina, and Doubtful Rivers - all beginning in Department of Conservation managed lands in the Lake Sumner Forest Park. All these rivers hold both brown and rainbow trout.
The rewards can be great as these rivers frequently supply excellent trophy fish. Helicopter access is a good alternative to the long walks required by this demanding area, particularly the Upper Hope reaches. There is excellent DOC huts available in the upper reaches for overnight stays
Fishing in this area favours light tackle, but dry fly and nymph is successful in the early morning and late evening. Weighted Hare and Copper (size 10), Green Stonefly (size 8) or a Half-back (size 12) produce excellent results.