visiting south island mid november

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    gday lads, names adam, im heading to the south island mid november for 2 weeks for a holiday, aiming to do the whole island driving round, i do a fair bit of estuary/surf fishing in qld australia, and im quite keen to have a go while im in nz. Has anyone got some good suggestions on towns to visit and some spots to try? Im gonna buy a cheap combo when i get here then have a crack, how do you guys find using lures or do you mainly use live bait? Will i need a permit to fish? What about bag limits and sizes? Whats good tasting fish to go for? what rig am i best off setting up? Any fish i should watch out for that have poision or spikes? Any info would be great cause im half plannin my trip on relaxing with a few beers and a fish, thanks for the read and i might see some of u over there. Cheers


    Quite a bit to cover here.

    The south Island offers two different ‘groups’ of fishing. In Nelson and the Marlborough sounds the main target species include Snapper and Kingfish. Most people fish dead bait for Snapper, and live bait for Kingfish. Could be worth a few days exploring around the Marlborough Sounds, Tasman Bay, Golden Bay and even around to the wilds of Westhaven inlet and further south. The size of the Kahawai (Australian Salmon) which can be caught off the river mouths of South of West haven are impressive.

    Further south Shark species start to dominate, bait anglers often target Rig/Lemon Fish which is a cousin to your gummy shark. Paddle crab is the best bait but it is hard to purchase. Other sharks include moderate size (up to 100lb) Sevengiller and Tope. The occasional Skate, Ray, Conger would also get caught.

    Kahawai can be caught almost anywhere, they are common around river mouths and would readily be caught on most styles of fishing. When you get Further south then Marlborough you enter “Salmon country”, from my understanding Salmon fishing involves spinning at river mouths all day for many days and you might get to see someone catch a Salmon. I have heard that F&G rangers would pester anglers targeting Kahawai (They claim that they are targeting Salmon) if they do not have a freshwater License. There is no license required for catching any saltwater species.

    Blue Moki is another species which can be easily caught. They are often caught on shrimp, mussel baits and feed best at night.

    Towns / places to visit.

    Kaikoura is worth a look. Fishing off the wharfs at night can catch good numbers of Blue Moki. During the day there is plenty of surf beaches to chase sharks (but in my experinece the surf fishing is slow around Kaikoura proper). There is also many rivers which enter the sea which would provide good opportunity for spinning.

    About 30-40 minutes to the north is a good series of Surf Beaches which regularly produce decent size sharks over high tide.

    Blenheim offers decent river mouth fishing for Kahawai (Wairau and Diversion) but I probably would not spend any time there for the fishing. I would advise to head into the Sounds and aim for either French pass or Titirangi (or both). There is camping offered at both locations. French Pass would be the more scenic of the two and would offer the best chance to catch a Kingfish. Snapper, Gurnard, Blue Cod and Kahawai can also be caught.

    Its a little out of the way but it could be interesting to explore Golden Bay and around to North-west Nelson (west-haven and further south). Snapper and large river mouth Kahawai would be the target species there.

    Then its a long drive back down around to the Westcoast. River mouth fishing for Kahawai/trout is a option down the coast. All kinds of species can be caught in the surf on bait. Karamea to the north is cool but you probably would not have time. The next fishing highlight would be all the way down in Haast. Down there you would be fishing cooler waters and the Kahwai would be uncommon. Never fished it myself but certain something worth catching would be about.

    Then I would head over and down to Stewart Island, the fishing around Stewart is a bit less spoiled and you should get onto Blue Cod (excellent eating) and good size moki. Trumpeter might also be around.

    From my understanding the fishing up the coast towards Christchurch is a bit ‘average’. You would catch Sharks, moki and a few other species. The further north you get the Kahawai would return to the river mouths.

    Freshwater fishing for trout is also plentiful.

    Not many poisonous fish in our waters, if you do bait fishing you are likely to catch a Spiny Dogfish which has a single spike which normally causes a infection if you get stabbed by it. Rays also have tail stings but with care they can be avoided.


    thanks very much for the response mate, yer were landing in christchurch then i had the intentions of kaikoura, blenheim, picton, nelson, id like to check out abel tasman national park then greymouth and head down the coast to wanaka, queenstown, invercargill, up to dunedin then back up to christchurch. Its gonna be alot of driving so hopefully i can do a lot in one day then relax for 2 sort of thing. Im interested in the northern part for fishing so ill try spend a bit of time up there, should be a good trip anyways. Your right ups a big help so ill pick some places you said to go. What sort of fishing combo would you go for in the surf, and how do you go about bait choices? Mainly pillies or prawns? Do you read the surf for gutters? Anywhere you think is worth checking out on the holiday thats a favourite spot for sights? Ive heard theres a far few penguins and seals around. Ill do a bit more reading and see how i go, i like this website gives me a bit of insight, thanks again for ya help


    Blenheim/ Picton are basically the same place. There is only a 25 minute drive between them. Decent fishing can be had in the sounds around Picton. Gurnard and Snapper should be on the menu. Maybe head around to Karaka point or Whatamango Bay. In saying that anywhere you can access the water in the sounds could produce a Snapper, Gurnard, Kahawai, Eagle ray or Trevally.

    Bait depends on target species…

    For Moki I would use prawn.
    For Rig I would favor prawn or paddle crab.
    For anything else I would favor Pilchard or Squid.

    For surf fishing I would go for a 12ft+ rod and a reel capable of holding several hundred meters of 20lb line. Best all purpose hook size would be 4/0 or 5/0. Would drop down to 2/0 for Moki and up to 8/0 for sharks.

    On the east coast beaches around Blenheim I do not read the surf for gutters. I am fairly convinced that all the fish swim parallel to the beach anyway. Others have different theories.

    For Sights, the drive out to French pass is cool and the pass itself is fairly impressive. The sounds themselves are fairly scenic.

    Apart from the city Nelson is fairly standard compared with the rest of the ‘bay’, but I feel further west towards Able Tasman, Golden Bay, West-haven inlet have more to offer. Golden Bay offers the Te Waikoropupu Springs which my childhood memories thought were amazing. When I visted them again last summer they did not live up to my expectations.

    I found the scenary around North west nelson (south of Westhaven-inlet) to be fairly spectacular.. All kinds of stange limestone formations and its a bit off the tourist track.

    On the westcoast the Punakai Blow holes are suppose to be a spectacular site. But the sea has always been calm and its low tide when I visit so never seen them working…

    The franz Joseph and fox glaciers are worth a visit.

    You would see heaps of Spectacular mountains and lakes around Wanaka, Queenstown ect.

    Around the Kaikoura coastline (mainly north of the town) you would see heaps of Seals. There is a small stream a few hundred meters to the south of Ohau seal colony, there is a walk to a waterfall or something. But much more impressive then the waterproof is that often heaps of Seal cubs swim up there to play in the plunge pool. I often find myself within touching distance of them.

    Most of the pengiuns are further south then my knowledge stretches. I did find myself surrounded by pengiuns one night while fishing the titirangi beach. They waddle up to rest in the grass covered sand dunes I suspect.


    For best success this is what I would reccomend. If you are mainly planning on surf fishing, then get a cheap surf combo at least 12ft, then all you need is a few ledger rigs with 5/0 hooks and a couple breakout sinkers. You’ll catch pretty much everything on a ledger rig and whatever bait you can get will work (squid, bonito). For Rig sharks crab works best.

    If you’re heading to invercargill the best place to fish there is off the Bluff Wharf, where you can catch Blue Cod, Red Cod, Warehou, Salmon, Terakihi, Skate, Rays, Sharks etc It also allows you to park your car right on the wharf without having to walk any distance.

    Pretty much all the beaches along the East Coast between Kaikoura and further south to Dunedin are very similar in terms of species of fish caught, all have a lot of sharks (dogfish, school sharks, rig sharks, seven gillers, elephant fish, carpet sharks) and fish species like Red Cod, Kahawai.

    Off the Wharfs at Bluff, Dunedin, Timaru, it is possible to catch Salmon.

    For any fresh water fishing you need a license, and it’s not really worth it for just catching trout and salmon (Which you can get in the sea anyway), plus you need totally different gear.

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