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The Waitahanui River is one of the three main rivers that flow into Lake Taupo (the others being the Tongariro River and the Tauranga Taupo River). The Waitahanui flows out of the foothills of the Kaimanawa Ranges and is crossed by State Highway 1 as the river passes through the township of Waitahanui, before entering Lake Taupo.
The Waitahanui is a popular fishing stream, and during the winter months Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout run up the river to spawn. The Waitahanui Rivermouth is also the location of the 'Picket Fence', which often sees anglers standing shoulder to shoulder up to their chest across the rivermouth, trying to catch trout as they move out of the lake.