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Tongariro National Trout Centre
One of the most popular attractions in Turangi, and certainly one you need to tick off your "must do list," is a trip to the Tongariro National Trout Centre. Just four kilometres south of Turangi on State Highway One, the centre has evolved over the years to become a world class family attraction suitable for all ages.
Not just a working trout hatchery; the Tongariro National Trout Centre also includes a river walk, a museum, a childrens fishing pond, an aquarium and a whio hardening facility.
The Visitor Centre is run by Taupo trout fishing volunteers but the trout hatchery is managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Great Lake Taupo has some of the best trout fishing in New Zealand. The trout in the rivers and lakes of the Great Lake Taupo area are wild. The trout hatchery's main use is to stock the children’s fishing pond at the centre.
However, it also serves an important purpose in the event of a disaster. If a major volcanic eruption or an earthquake took place and the trout population was in danger, these fish would be used to restock the local rivers and lakes.
The children’s fish-out days have become legendary. Children aged between six and 14 years of age, can learn to cast with the help of volunteers. They are guaranteed to catch a trout in the well-stocked pool.
There are about six fish-out days every year, usually during the school holidays and on public holidays. On these days bookings are essential and DOC staff are on hand to help kids with gutting and cooking the fish on a barbecue. For more information go to the Tongariro National Trout Centre website.
There is a picturesque walk around the centre which includes stripping pens, rearing ponds, an underground viewing chamber and a pond where children can feed trout. The walk by the river, with its native bush and sounds of native birds like the tui and kereru, is the perfect spot for a family picnic.
The whio is a unique native blue duck only found in New Zealand’s fast flowing waters like the Tongariro River in Turangi. Where once they were a rare sight, whio can now be seen and enjoyed by visitors to the area thanks to Genesis Energy’s Whio Forever programme and local conservation groups.
The purpose of the Whio hardening facility at the Tongariro National Trout Centre is to act as a boot camp for whio ducklings to harden them up to survive in the wild. Before they are released they need to learn to feed and swim in fast flowing water. The facility is a great opportunity for people of all ages to see this special bird up close.
Schools also utilise the centre through its educational programme, Taupo for Tomorrow. Students learn hands-on about trout ecology, freshwater environments and the importance of better understanding how natural resources are sustained and shared by the various users of the river.