Fishing & hunting in New Zealand

Fly fishing on Lake Taupo | Photo: Great Lake Taupo

Fishing & hunting in New Zealand

From the one that got away to the one that didn't, you're guaranteed to find a new story to tell. Whether it's the thrill of a big game fish on the line or stalking one of New Zealand's many introduced deer species, you'll find a experience that's all yours. But remember, New Zealand has some strict hunting and fishing regulations to adhere to.

Big Game Fishing

Big game fishing is an unforgettable thrill. The sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands are renowned worldwide for their Marlin, Kingfish and Swordfish – this was the place that put New Zealand game fishing on the map in the early 20th Century, thanks to writer Zane Grey. Striped Marlin grow bigger in these waters than anywhere else in the world, averaging around 100 kilograms. No licence is required for big game fishing, but chartering a boat with an experienced skipper is the recommended approach.

Fly Fishing

Opportunities to fish for trophy-sized Brown and Rainbow Trout are available throughout the country: the lakes of Rotorua and Taupo, and the rivers of Canterbury and Southland are particularly popular locations. Salmon fishing is also on offer in Canterbury and on the West Coast. A licence is required for trout fishing and regulations govern quantity of fish and minimum catch sizes. Licences can be obtained from New Zealand sports shops – visit for regulations – but it’s best to hire a professional guide who can help your clients with local knowledge. Heli-fishing is an option that is becoming increasingly popular. Take the guesswork out of it and fly straight to some of the remotest and most productive secret fishing spots in New Zealand's backcountry!

Big Fish Stories

Trout are not native to New Zealand, but the country’s rivers and lakes have turned out to be an ideal habitat for the species. Rainbow Trout from California were introduced to New Zealand in the early 1880s and they now thrive throughout the country, growing to an average of 1.5 to 2 kilograms. Every year a handful of lucky anglers land fish up to 7 kilograms! Brown Trout are even larger. Introduced in the 1860s, this species is established throughout the country, growing to an average of 1 to 3 kilograms in rivers. In lakes they can grow to more than 10 kilograms.


New Zealand offers some of the world’s finest waterfowl and trophy hunting. Hunting is encouraged to reduce numbers of some introduced species and conserve native wildlife. Hunting permits are required and these can be obtained from regional Department of Conservation offices. Visitors should hire the services of a professional hunting guide – New Zealand’s wilderness is often physically demanding and high country weather is unpredictable, so it's a good idea to draw on local knowledge.

Big Game

New Zealand’s 19th Century European settlers brought with them species of animals that were familiar in their homeland. Introduced into a fertile, temperate habitat with no natural predators, they thrived, often growing to larger sizes than they did in their original home. Hunting is encouraged in New Zealand to control the numbers of these introduced species, although all hunters are required to carry a licence (see for information). Game species in New Zealand include Wapiti, Red Deer, Sika Deer, Rusa Deer, Sambar Deer, Whitetail Deer, Fallow Deer, Himalayan Tahr, Austrian Chamois and wild pig.

Licences & Permits

Fish Licence 24-hour or seasonal licences are issued by Fish and Game New Zealand and required to fish for trout or salmon.

Game Bird Licence This is issued by Fish and Game New Zealand and required to hunt for waterfowl, pheasant and quail. One-day or seasonal licences are available.

Hunting Permit Issued by the Department of Conservation and required if you wish to hunt on New Zealand’s national park and conservation estates. Your hunting licence can typically be arranged by a hunting guide.

Visitors Firearms Licence Issued by the NZ Police and required for overseas visitors to be able to bring a hunting weapon into the country. A licence from your own country may also be required.



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