New Zealand’s excellent fishing scene has been recognized since the country every first discovery. So much so, that New Zealand itself was said to be fished out of the sea according to the Maori legend of Maui.
From the inland rivers, stacked with brown trout and rainbow trout, all the way to the fish-filled ocean that moves along more than 15,000km of coastline, New Zealand is particularly exciting for experienced anglers and beginners alike. Check out the two “Trout Capitals of the World” or take to the shallow rivers and lakeshores to discover a love for the sport. As being out on the water and having “fish n’ chips” is all part of the Kiwi culture, its not difficult to find commercial charters and locals who are happy to take you out on the water for a relaxing afternoon of fishing. Because New Zealand aims to be a sustainable country, there are a few fishing laws in place, which are essential to be aware of before heading off on your fishing trip.
Pacific blue marlin
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty The Ngongotaha River has a year-round population of rainbow and brown trout. The best time to fish is April-May.
Lake Taupo, Waikato A great place if you have little experience or for a spot of fly fishing. There’s a good selection of fishing charters on the lake.
Turangi, Waikato The “Trout Fishing Capital of New Zealand” has the renowned Tongariro River passing through ideal for catching brown and rainbow trout. Visit the Tongariro National Trout Centre and hatchery for great insight in the region and its world-famous. rainbow and brown trout.
Motueka River, Nelson/Tasman The river is great for beginners and fly fishing. You’ll find 2-5 pound brown trout.
Haast River, West Coast Catch 10-pound brown trout in the estuary and whitebait in the early season.
Upper Clutha River, Otago There are many entries points to the fastest flowing river in New Zealand between Lake Wanaka and Lake Dunstan. This river is recommended for experienced anglers.
Gore, Southland The “Brown Trout Fishing Capital of the World”. The Mataura River is recognized for its highest population and catch rate in New Zealand which attracts anglers from all over the world during October-April.
Here are a few noteworthy places any keen angler should check out.
Bay of Islands, Northland
A good choice of fishing charter activities to catch marlin fish, snapper, kingfish and hapuku. Albatross V Expeditions encourages cruise guests to join them fishing before preparing the catch for lunch.
Whakatane, Bay of Plenty Its waters a particularly known for the fighter yellowfin tuna, which is best fished December-April.
Inner Hauraki Gulf, Auckland More fishing charters can take you to catch snapper. Be aware of specific enforced restrictions here.
Coromandel, Waikato Large snapper and kingfish can be caught from boat and land. Try Fantail Bay for good land-based fishing.
Gisborne, Eastland Good all-round fishing by both boat and land. Try Okitu, Wainui Beach, Tatapouri Beach, and Pouawa.
Wellington Harbour, Wellington Shore fish for blue and red cod, kahawai, kingfish, snapper, elephant fish, tarakihi, rays and sea trout. There are good boat fishing opportunities too.
Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough There’s excellent fishing in mainly sheltered water. Try Keneperu Sound, Tory Channel, and Maud Island.
Kaikoura, Canterbury Renowned for its variety of sea life. Try Clarence, the Kaikoura Peninsula, South Bay, and Conway.
Dunedin, Otago Sheltered water for salmon fishing makes the sport very popular in Dunedin.
Invercargill, Southland Particularly excellent boat fishing at Pig Island, Te Waewae, Howells Point, Omaui and The Dog and Ruapuke Islands.
Stewart Island, Southland Great for groper, blue cod and trumpeter, with lots of sheltered bays and coves for boat and land fishing.
New Zealand Fishing Licence Everyone who is going freshwater fishing in New Zealand must purchase a fishing license to legally fish in New Zealand. Fishing licenses can be purchased either from local fishing stores, visitor information centers or online at the Fish & Game website. These fishing licenses let you fish anywhere in New Zealand, except Taupo. There is a range of licenses to choose from, ranging from NZ$34 for the day to NZ$169 for the whole season for a non-resident. If you are fishing in the Lake Taupo district of the North Island, you can purchase a license from local fishing stores, visitor information centers or from the Department of Conservation website.
Licenses range from NZ$20 for the day to NZ$129 for the season for a non-resident. Although there is no license required for saltwater fishing, there are set rules and regulations to follow, which you can read up on below.
Such rules cover:
daily bag limits (how many fish you can keep)
legal size limits (the size of fish you can keep)
species restrictions (the type of fish you can keep)
closed and restricted areas (where you can legally fish)
Make sure you also check out the fishing rules of an area before you venture out on a fishing trip. Because these rules differ from area to area and change frequently, the best way to check the rules is via the MPI’s website, download the free NZ Fishing Rules app with Android or Apple which work even when there is no network coverage, or free text the name of a species you are fishing to 9889.
More fishing locations to check out while visiting New Zealand
Southland, Fiordland & Stewart Island
Fewer people means more fish. Down here the human population is sparse, so there’s a lot of room on the river banks and lake edges. Under big skies and surrounded by awesome mountain ranges, you can cast for brown trout, rainbow trout and salmon. Or catch the ferry to Stewart Island (Rakiura) and go fishing with a charter boat for blue cod, trumpeter and tarakihi the fish are so prolific, success is 99.9% certain.
The Otago region has a number of excellent dams and high country rivers, where you can fish for brown trout against a backdrop of magnificent mountains. You’ll enjoy the gold mining history of this area too. Quinnat salmon run in the Clutha River from January until May, and Lake Roxburgh has something of everything browns, rainbows and the occasional salmon.
The beautiful braided rivers of Canterbury are best appreciated from the business end of a fly-fishing rod. South of Christchurch, the Rakaia River is famous for its salmon and sea-run trout. Or get a deluxe experience on the Waimakariri River, jet boating from one fishing venue to the next. Your expert fishing guide provides all the fishing equipment you need, including your fishing license.
From the beginning of September to mid-November, the west coast of the South Island is whitebait country. Whitebait are tiny fish that New Zealanders love to eat in fritter form – they’re among our most delectable delicacies. You can catch them with a net, however, it’s important to ensure you’re fishing by the rules.
Nelson & Marlborough
If you want to try ocean fishing but don’t have great sea legs, enjoy the calm waters of Marlborough Sounds from the comfort of a charter fishing trip. For more of open ocean experience, offshore from the Abel Tasman National Park can be very rewarding and your catch can be cooked on board. Instant gratification! The Nelson Lakes National Park is the place to cast for frisky brown trout.
Clear, fast rivers run from the North Island’s volcanic central plateau, enticing trout fishermen to come out and play. Taupo and Turangi and the major trout fishing towns, and right through the region there are all kinds of fishing lodges from rustic homestays to world-famous retreats like Huka Lodge.
From the port town of Whitianga you can catch a charter boat, in the hope of hooking a trophy-size snapper or kingfish. And in summer there are game fish in the waters – tuna, marlin, and sharks. An overnight fishing charter is a real treat most likely you’ll anchor at the beautiful Mercury Islands. On a multi-day trip, get the skipper to take you to volcanic Mayor Island a magical place with water so clear and deep, you can see your anchor hit the bottom.