Fly fishing in Canterbury, New Zealand

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Canterbury is an exceptional region for fly fishing. Read on to find out where the best locations are.

As cities go, Christchurch would be a spectacular place for any trout fisherman to live. It’s the gateway to the enticing Canterbury region, a massive chunk of land framed by the Southern Alps and drained by some mighty rivers, which are in turn fed by some wonderful trout streams both large and small. Local fishing guides and lodges can help you make the most of your time there.

The dazzling North Canterbury fish and game district starts with the Conway River in the north and runs south to the Rakaia River. Between these points you’ll find the Clarence River and the Waiau River and their superb tributaries - famous big fish rivers like the Hope, the Boyle and the Lewis. During the “mouse years” when average fish sizes jump right up, the tribs of the Waiau attract anglers looking for the catch of a lifetime while the nearby Hurunui River is equally as popular and fishes well top to bottom.

Moving south, the Waimakariri Drainage is fed by some delightful smaller rivers like the Broken, Porter, and Otukaikino (South Branch). All these waters are close to the Historic Grasmere Lodge off Hwy. 73 that takes you over Arthur’s Pass and to the West Coast. The next valley to the south is the Rakia Drainage and our favourite trout rivers that feed it would be the Wilberforce, Harper, Glenariffe, and Lake Stream. A number of other spring creeks feed into these systems and local fishing guides will all have their secret favourites, a number of which require crossing glacial rivers to get to. If you haven’t been driven across a river with water coming over the hood, you have missed out on a gripping adventure and some nice fish!

But back in Christchurch, there’s also easy access to fishing nearby. You’ve got Chinook salmon running up the big rivers in summer and fall and if you like the challenge of spring creeks, you’re in luck. Just to the south of the city, you have Harts, Haswell, and L11 all flowing into Lake Ellesmere.

Add to all this the trout waters of South Canterbury and the Mt Cook region, and you’ll be gazing up at the tallest mountains in New Zealand, whose snow-capped peaks feed the rivers all summer long. On many of them, especially the alluring Ahuriri River, you won’t know whether to grab your rod or your camera.

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