New Zealand has no native salmon or trout, but our crystal clear rivers and lakes have opened their arms to rainbows, browns and trophy-sized salmon.
Rainbow trout from California were introduced in the early 1880s. They inhabit most rivers and lakes in both the North and South islands, typically growing to an average of 3-4 lb (1.5-2 kg). In some waters monster fish up to 15 lb (7 kg) are caught every year.
Brown trout arrived in the 1860s from the United Kingdom via Tasmania. Like the rainbows, they’re found in most lakes and rivers throughout the country. In rivers and streams, browns average 2-4 lb (1-3 kg). In lakes they’re noticeably bigger. Double figure fish are common enough to keep your hopes up
Chinook salmon were successfully introduced to South Canterbury in the early 1900s. Canterbury remains New Zealand’s premier salmon fishing destination. The Rakaia, Waimakariri, Hurunui and Waiau rivers offer excellent sea-run salmon fishing between November and March.
In spring and early summer, a native freshwater delicacy can be caught near the mouth of major rivers. Whitebait, inanga in Maori, are tiny fish commonly served as fritters. They are still regarded as a traditional food by Maori.