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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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The silvery sea-run brown trout is king in South Island waters, although there are many fine fishing waters carrying heavy stocks of domestic brown trout. The Mataura River, boundary of the Southland and Otago Acclimatisation Societies' districts, is the greatest brown trout water in New Zealand. Southland's Waiau River offers all types of water and splendid rainbow and brown trout fishing, plus Atlantic salmon averaging 2½ lb. Other good Southland waters are the Mararoa, Aparima, Oreti, and Makarewa Rivers.

The Clutha River, in the Otago Acclimatisation Society district, is New Zealand's largest river, carrying the waters of three magnificent lakes–Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Hawea. Many sea-run brown trout are caught in the lower reaches of the Clutha and all sections of the river offer good fishing. The Taieri, Catlins, Waikouaiti, Waipori, and Shag Rivers carry good stocks of brown trout, while Lakes Mahinerangi, Waipori, and Onslow produce many fine bags of heavy brown trout averaging 2 lb 8 oz.

Trout fishing in the Waitaki and Waimate Acclimatisation Societies' districts is regaining its former high standard as a result of the work being done by officers of the two societies. Access to most waters is fairly easy; the Waitaki and Hakataramea Rivers give the best sport, with rainbow and brown trout averaging 3 lb or more.

The waters of the Ashburton and South Canterbury Acclimatisation Societies' districts are noted for quinnat salmon and rainbow and brown trout. The boundary between the two societies is the Rakaia, which contains heavy stocks of quinnat salmon and also of brown trout, averaging 3 lb. Sea-run brown trout averaging 3 lb may be taken from the Ashburton River. Other good waters are the Hinds and Rangitata Rivers and the many high-country lakes in the Mount Somers area and the Tekapo region.

The North Canterbury Acclimatisation Society district is one of the five best fishing areas in New Zealand. The Waiau River carries a good head of brown trout averaging 3 lb and has a fine quinnat salmon run from February to April each year. Good fishing is also available in the Hurunui, Ashley, Waimakariri, and Selwyn Rivers. This district has some fine lakes well stocked with rainbow and/or brown trout and small salmon.

Excellent lake and river fishing, both for brown and for rainbow trout, is offered in the Marlborough and Nelson Acclimatisation Societies' districts. The Rai River is one of the Dominion's best dry-fly waters. Brown trout averaging 4 lb and rainbow trout averaging 3 lb are taken from this water; both species would average 3 lb in the Ronga, Tunakino, and Opouri Rivers, all tributaries of the Rai. Two other good fishing waters in the Marlborough district are the Pelorus and Wairau Rivers. North American anglers are enthusiastic about Nelson district fishing waters because the scenery is similar to that of the west Coast of the United States and Canada. The Riwaka, Takaka, Cobb, Wangapeka, Buller, Travers, Gowan, D'Urville, Sabine, Owen, Mangles, and Maruia Rivers all carry good heads of fish, as do Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa. Being sparsely populated, the West Coast and Westland Acclimatisation Societies' districts have a heavy trout population, averaging just over 3 lb in their lakes, rivers, and streams. All waters carry brown trout. Rainbow and quinnat salmon are present in the Taramakau River, boundary of the two societies, but are really limited to Westland waters. The Grey River system contains the major fishing waters of the West Coast district, but fine fishing is also available in the waters of the Buller River system. The Westland Society district has many fine rivers and lakes, the best fishing being at Lakes Kaniere and Mapourika, both of which contain brown trout averaging over 4 lb. The two districts offer good fishing in beautiful scenic conditions, but some of the country is really rugged and anglers are advised to talk to local anglers before planning trips.

The Southern Lakes Fishing District, a region of more than 12,000 sq. miles, has a greater variety of waters than any other area of New Zealand. Atlantic and quinnat salmon, sea-run brown trout, and brown and rainbow trout are all acclimatised in the area. The district is administered by the Wildlife Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. It can be considered as five areas—Haast, Wanaka-Hawea, Wakatipu, Te Anau and Manapouri—each of which has a resident field officer available to advise and assist anglers on places and methods of fishing.