Fishing gets you immersed in New Zealand's gorgeous scenery while you satisfy your hunter-gatherer instincts.
Imagine the perfect fishing experience. A river? A bay? Open ocean? Trout? Marlin?Snapper? It doesn’t matter what you’re imagining, because you’ll find every sort of fishing experience in New Zealand. And when the day is done, there are unique lodges that will welcome you home with fantastic cuisine (your catch!) and all the creature comforts.
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 searun 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 an 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.
Bay of Plenty
From Whakatane you can arrange two amazing adventures - visit the active marine volcano White Island, and then try to catch a massive yellow tail kingfish. The world record yellowtail – all 52kg of it - was caught here. Opt for an overnight charter and dabble in some night fishing for live bait – exciting stuff. Other species to catch at White Island include hapuka, bluenose, terakihi and trevally.
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.
For more information on fishing regulation and licences visit Fish & Game New Zealand.