Something for everyone

Located in the sunny Bay of Plenty, at the northern end of Tauranga Harbour, Waihi Beach offers a wide variety of places to cruise, fish, water-ski or simply “mess about” in boats.

There is a huge variety of fishing available, both in the harbour and “outside”. Snapper, trevally and kahawai can be found year-round in the harbour and there are good-sized kingfish to be found just inside the entrance during the summer months (see Lana’s fishing tips). All these fish can also often be found in the coastal waters outside the entrance at various times of the year while, during late summer and autumn, there is a huge variety of game and deep-water fish to be found: marlin, yellowfin and southern bluefin tuna, hapuku, bluenose, bass and gemfish to name just a few.

For those who enjoy picnicking on quiet beaches, nearby Shelly Bay and the inner shores of Matakana Island usually provide lovely sheltered spots during the summer, while there are also clearly marked ski lanes in the harbour for those after a more energetic activity. Those with good navigation skills and an adventurous nature can travel further afield while remaining within the sheltered waters of the harbour.

Those keen to get out on the water have several options for launching and retrieving their vessels: from the northern end of Waihi Beach, from Anzac Bay and from the ramps at the Bowentown Boating and Sport Fishing Club. Those using the “northern end”, especially at high tide, need to be aware that the sand can be soft. This means it is mainly suitable for smaller vessels and it is advisable to use a long tow rope between boat and trailer. The ramp at Anzac Bay is also a sand one and, while able to be used at all tides, is again best suited to smaller boats, personal watercraft (PWCs jetskis) and kayaks.

The Bowentown Boating and Sport Fishing Club’s ramps are concrete, with adjacent jetties, and by far the easiest and safest places to launch and retrieve a boat of any size. They are owned and maintained by the club and are predominately for the use of club members, who use their keys for access. However, the southern-most ramp is also able to be used by non-members. It is coin-operated and costs $12 for a launch and retrieve ($6 each way).

The Bowentown Boating and Sport Fishing Club (BBSFC) is at the heart of much of the boating and fishing at Waihi Beach. It is welcoming to visitors, a great place to get useful information about the area’s boating and fishing and, thanks to the major recent extension to its deck area, a fantastic place to enjoy a drink or a meal or simply admire the view.

The club currently has over 1,100 members and, according to enthusiastic Commodore, Stu Curd, is aiming to have at least 1,500 by the end of 2023. With both a bar and restaurant, a courtesy van and a very impressive new deck, it is a real social hub for the people of Bowentown, Waihi Beach and Athenree. Throughout the week the club hosts darts and pool competitions, has an extremely popular members’ draw each Friday night and shows major sports events on its large TVs over the weekend. It is also one of the most popular venues in the area to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

The club hosts six major fishing tournaments throughout the year, all of which are open to visitors as well as members. These include the Fox and Friends (hosted by Kiwi golfer Ryan Fox) and the harbour-only Anniversary Weekend Nauti-Girls (with only one male allowed on each boat). The club is also home to the increasingly popular Hauraki Waka Ama group.

There is a wash-down area that both members and those paying to use the launching ramps can use and a weigh station for those who manage to land that really special fish.

Annual membership for those wanting a key to access the boat ramps is $115 and $75 for those not needing a key. There are also social memberships available for just $40. For membership enquiries, go to bbsfc.co.nz.

 

Lana’s Summer Fishing Tips

Lana Hamilton, co-owner of Reel ‘n’ Wave in Wilson Road, is one of Waihi Beach’s most experienced and successful fishers.

These are her top tips for a successful summer fishing trip:

  • In December and January, the best fishing is the harbour
    The fish “outside” tend to be preoccupied with spawning and not very interested in feeding, while those in the harbour have already spawned and are hungry.
  • Use a running rig with a long track

We try to mimic the old-style handline setup in the harbour, using a heavy weight attached to an extremely long leader line. Place a small ball sinker or bead on your mainline just in front of a barrel swivel, then tie 4m of leader line with 2 recurve hooks attached at the end (recurve hooks tend to hook in the corner of the mouth). Feed this rig right out the back, away from the noise of the boat, then attach a clip-on sinker or release a ball sinker that may have been attached earlier. The sinker will make its way down to the small ball sinker and barrel swivel and not be able to go further.

If you are not getting bites but still losing your baits, try switching to smaller 4/0 hooks to target the trevally that are possibly sucking the baits off the hook.

Be careful when handling your traces on board in case there is a hungry shark following them in.

  • Pick your tides

During the last of the outgoing and the first of the incoming tide, stay down the Waihi Beach end of the harbour or near the entrance; as the tide gets fuller, head up harbour.

Look for freshwater sources running into the harbour, as bait will naturally congregate there.

At times when sea lettuce is prolific, try fishing the slack water.

  • Target kingfish

Summer is prime time for catching kingfish and there are usually some big (25-30kgs) around.

At the start of the season, try trolling bibbed rapalas around the bar; when there are lots of small baitfish about, switch to a live bait under a balloon.

Best spots: the main entrance marker buoys, the headlands and, as the tide first comes in and the birds are working, on the bank behind the big black entrance marker.

Use a long 50-80lb minimum mainline and a strong trace around 100lb.

Give the kings enough time to fully swallow the bait and don’t apply too much drag. When first hooked, they need to burn off some energy before you try and land them; let them do a few runs to tire themselves out but be wary of getting snagged on rocks or other obstacles.

  • Drop in for free advice

My team and I try to get out on the water every week to learn where the fish are holding. Feel free to drop in and see us at Reel ‘n’ Wave. We’re happy to share our up-to-date local knowledge and supply you with any bait or equipment you might need.

 

Bay of Plenty Boating Bylaws

  • Lifejackets must be worn at all times unless the skipper has assessed the risks and advised it’s safe to remove them.
  • Lifejackets must be worn in an emergency and at times of heightened risk, such as when crossing bars, in strong tides or in water that is rough for the size of the craft.
  • Crotch straps are essential for children’s lifejackets and ideally worn by all
  • Boats must not exceed five knots:
    • Within 200 metres of the shore or a structure;
    • Within 200 metres of any vessel flying the International Code A Flag (dive flag);
    • Within 50 metres of another boat, raft, or person in the water;
    • When the boat has anyone at or on the bow, with any portion of his/her body extending over the fore part, bow or side of the vessel.

Recommendations

  • Always have TWO reliable ways to call for help that will work when wet.
  • Always tell someone where you’re going and when you will be back AND what to do if you don’t return – call 111 and ask for Police.