New Zealand Outdoors

Fishing New Zealand
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Seventy years ago, Zane Grey dubbed New Zealand an "angler's El Dorado," and the country has been proving him right ever since. Here you will find some of the world's best fresh and saltwater fishing in locations as beautiful as nature has ever devised. In addition to spectacular scenery, you will find yourself fishing in crystal-clear waters for fish that are bigger and wilder than anywhere else. If you are an angler with a lifelong fishing dream, this is where dreams come true.

Trout Fishing

Since the introduction of trout from California in the latter part of last century, anglers from all over the world have realized their finest fishing dreams in New Zealand. Copious rivers and streams (dubbed "clear as gin") crisscross the North and South Islands and offer excellent stream fishing for both browns and rainbows. Here anglers can fish the very best dry-fly waters in the world with guides who are internationally recognized leaders in their field. In addition, the literally hundreds of pristine lakes are all worth visiting. The average size of the trout taken is 4 to 4 1/2 pounds, but trophy fish ("double-digit") are caught with remarkable— and joyous— frequency.

Like the Babylonians, who believed the gods did not subtract from a person's allotted time on earth for the time spent fishing, New Zealand's avid fishing population has elevated trout fishing beyond mere sport. They have even made "catch and release" a regular practice, and 90 percent of the North American fly-fishers visiting New Zealand practice this too.

On the North Island, the summer trout fishing season runs from October to April in most districts. Winter trout fishing is available in the Taupo/Rotorua regions, with April/May and September/October being the best months. The Tongariro River is considered one of the best trout fishing rivers in the world. Its best fishing times are from May to October.

Trout fishing in the South Island can also provide world-class brown and rainbow trout dry-fly fishing. Dry-fly, nymph, streamer or lure fishing is best from October to May (spring through to autumn), although good, year-round fishing is available in some designated lakes and rivers.

For the spin fisherman, there is both trout and quinnat (chinook salmon) fishing in late summer and autumn.

Salmon Fishing

The main fishing rivers for salmon are the Rakaia, Waimakariri, Rangitata, Ashburton and Waitaki Rivers of the east coast of the South Island. The season is spring through autumn, with February and March being the best months. Guides operate mainly on the Rakaia River and provide all tackle, transport and refreshments.

Saltwater Boat Fishing

Saltwater Boat Fishing Takes place year-round. Guided saltwater sportfishing from charter boats is available all around the coast, but particularly from spots such as Whangaroa, Bay of Islands, Tutukaka, Auckland, Mercury Bay, Tauranga, Whakatane, the Marlborough Sounds and Milford Sound. There are no closed season restrictions, and you don't even need a fishing license.


The sport of surfcasting can be found all around coastal New Zealand.Most camping grounds and stores around the coastal areas sell bait, but many people use shellfish gathered right on the spot. Equipment can often be hired.

Big Game Fishing

New Zealand's big game fishery has a worldwide reputation, every bit as fantastic as a fisherman's tale.Species fished include striped marlin, Pacific blue and black marlin and broadbill swordfish. Yelllowtail (kingfish), mako, hammerhead and thresher sharks are also popular catches.

Fishing tends to be concentrated on the east coast of the North Island, from bases in the Bay of Islands, Tutukaka Whangaroa, Whitianga, Mayor Island, Tauranga and Whakatane. Best months are January to May.

You need to charter a big-game boat and skipper who will provide everything necessary for fishing,including bait, tackle, equipment and refreshments.


Fishing Licenses are available from fishing tackle and sports shops on a daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal basis. For salt-water fishing, no license is required.

Tackle: Feel free to bring your own fishing equipment. However, all of the fishing lodges and most guides can also provide it free of charge. Local sporting shops will rent equipment if you want to fish on your own.

Thanks to the New Zealand Tourism Board for providing us with this information.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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