Any prospective fisherman in New Zealand should get a copy of Sports Fishing Guide, a free booklet produced by the New Zealand Fish and Game Council (tel. 04/499-4767; fax 04/499-4768; www.fishandgame.org.nz). The guide supplies you with the myriad rules and regulations you need to know. It also gives details on major freshwater fishing spots. The New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association (tel. 06/868-4214; www.nzpfga.com) may also be helpful. For an online directory of New Zealand fishing magazines, go to www.nzfishing.com. One of the best is NZ Fishing World (www.nzfishingworld.co.nz). For help in planning a New Zealand fishing holiday from North America, contact the Best of New Zealand Adventure Travel, 2817 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403 (tel. 800/528-6129 in the U.S., or 310/998-5880). This agency specializes in angler activities and has a 48-page brochure called The Best of New Zealand Fly Fishing (which also includes information on saltwater fishing). For more information visit www.bestofnzflyfishing.com.
New Zealand's reputation as a trout fisherman's paradise is well established internationally. It is the world's best place to fish for wild brown trout during the season, which lasts from the first Saturday in October to the end of April. During this time, all rivers and streams are open for brown and rainbow trout, but local restrictions may apply. There are several areas where you can fish year-round: the Rotorua District and Lake Taupo on the North Island, and Lake Te Anau, Lake Brunner, and Lake Wakatipu on the South Island.
The Tongariro River, near Turangi, is one of the prime trout-fishing rivers in the world. May through October are the best months to snag rainbow and brown trout, which average nearly 2 kilograms (over 4 lb.)! This period is also good for fishing in Lakes Taupo and Rotorua. Lake Rotorua is not stocked, but it has one of the highest catch rates in the district.
The Eastern Fish and Game region has a huge range of fishing opportunities and diversity in both lake and river fishing. The bush-clad lakes Waikaremoana and Waikareiti provide spectacular boat and shoreline fishing for both brown and rainbow trout in untouched Te Urewera National Park.
Fishing is good in almost all areas of the South Island. In Nelson, you'll get rainbow trout and also quinnat salmon in many places, but it's the brown trout that's king of these mixed waters. Canterbury is best known for its prolific salmon runs that enter the large braided rivers such as the Rakaia and Waimakariri, and high-country rivers are known for small numbers of big fish.
In the West Coast region, Lake Brunner is the most popular angling water in the region, with brown trout averaging 1.1 kilograms (2 1/2 lb.). Farther south, the Waitaki and Rangitata rivers have landed chinook salmon of 15 kilograms (33 lb.).
Fish and Game Otago has an excellent book, Guide to Trout Fishing in Otago, which covers 140 waters and gives information on access and methods. In Southland, dozens of rivers, streams, and lakes hold brown and rainbow trout, plus quinnat salmon. The waters of this region are widely known throughout New Zealand, but you have to be a competent fisherman and know your way around to be successful. Southland Fish and Game, P.O. Box 159, Invercargill (tel. 03/215-9117; firstname.lastname@example.org), can supply maps, advice, information, and guides.
Fishing Guides -- If fishing is your passion, consider investing some cash in a good guide. Be warned, however, that freshwater fishing guides here are not cheap; some run as high as NZ$1,200 to NZ$1,800 per day for one or two people. Shop around for the best deals.
If you'd like to organize a fishing holiday, contact South Island Fishing Tours (tel./fax 03/755-8032; www.flyfishingnewzealand.co.nz). Tony and Marj Allan of Kawhaka Lodge in Hokitika offer 2- to 14-day fishing tours for one to two people, starting and finishing in Christchurch. Chris Jolly Outdoors (tel. 07/378-0623; fax 07/378-9458; www.chrisjolly.co.nz) specializes in trout fishing on Lake Taupo (among other things) and can take you to the best trout rivers that flow into the lake. In Wanaka, Gerald Telford (tel./fax 03/443-9257; www.flyfishhunt.co.nz) offers a number of multiday fishing excursions that start at NZ$695 per person.
Saltwater & Big-Game Fishing
Deep-sea fishing is at its best along the magnificent 500km (310 miles) of Northland's coastline, slipping down into the Bay of Plenty. Waters less than an hour out from shore can yield marlin, shark (mako, thresher, hammerhead, tiger), five species of tuna, broadbill, and yellowtail. The season runs from mid-January to April, and you'll find well-equipped bases at the Bay of Islands in Northland, Whitianga on the Coromandel, and Tauranga and Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. You can also fish for kahawai, snapper, and more anywhere along the New Zealand coast. Licenses are not required.
Keeping New Zealand Waterways Clean
Sadly, many New Zealand waterways now carry the unwanted organism Didymosphenia geminate (Didymo), also known as "rock snot," which is a freshwater diatom (type of alga) that was first reported on the Lower Waiau River in the South Island in 2004. Biosecurity New Zealand (www.biosecurity.govt.nz) has since declared the whole of the South Island a controlled area for Didymo. This means that fishermen, boat owners, and others using waterways for pleasure activities are legally required to do everything they can to prevent its spread. Unfortunately, Didymo is a microscopic pest that can be spread in a single drop of water. You therefore need to ensure that all watersports equipment, including boots, waders, fishing lines, boats, skis, and anything else used in the water is thoroughly clean and dry before moving from one waterway to another. As the name suggests, when Didymo takes over a waterway, it forms a slimy brown mass that attaches itself to everything. Please take extreme care not to aid in its spread.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.