If you’re local to Auckland and looking for a convenient fishing escape off the beaten track, you'll struggle to do better than Mangawhai
Matt Jones’ guide to Mangawhai and Hen and Chicken Islands
Less than an hour and a half’s drive from the big smoke of Auckland, set against a backdrop of captivating sand dunes and the deep blue yonder lies a magical slice of whitesand coastal paradise.
But enough about the scenery; the real reason to hook up a boat and head to Mangawhai is, of course, the fishing. Its handy location puts epic fishing destinations like the Mokohinau’s, the Hen and Chicks and Sail Rock all within reach of the midsized trailer boat fleet. Who needs steak when you can dine on snapper, crayfish, kingfish, kahawai, trevally and gurnard to name a few.
As I’ve been lucky enough to have family with holiday homes in this magic spot so I’ve been able to enjoy more than my fair share of good times and good fishing over the last few decades. When I was handed the keys to a brand new Mazda BT-50 GLX double cab and asked to tow a boat somewhere fishy, only one destination came to mind.
A great day for it
Having heard my cousin Mike “Skitzo” Kitson was heading out fishing from Mangawhai that weekend I unabashedly invited myself along. Being a good sort, this wasn’t a problem for Skitzo and less than two hours later I found myself loading my abundance of fishing gear into his wellequipped Surtees 610 Gamefisher.
When combined with Skitzo’s impressive arsenal we had enough gear on board to sink a lesser vessel. Feeling suitably prepared for anything, the Surtees was hooked up to the trusty Mazda BT-50’S tow ball and we headed for Mangawhai Heads at the leisurely hour of 11am – to coincide with the tides of course.
But, we couldn’t head out without first picking up the bloke who’d introduced us to Mangawhai’s magical charms in the first place - Skitzo’s father, “Fossyl”. Thankfully Fossyl only bought one rod.
We made our way to the sheltered estuary where the three-lane, all-tide concrete ramp and complimentary floating pontoon made for a laid-back launch with ample parking for the truck and trailer.