Waiau River Salmon and Trout Fishing – North Canterbury

Waiau River – Trout and Salmon

The Waiau River mouth is some 18 kilometres to the northeast of the Hurunui River mouth. The River marks the northern boundary of Canterbury’s tremendous wild sea-run salmon fishery. The river does have good salmon runs but these tend to be sporadic. Water abstraction for farming has lowered the mid-summer river flows not helping the fishing at all.

Access to the river for approximately 5kms on either side of State Highway One at Spotswood is quite good. Access downstream of Waiau East

Andy Black with a big 11.9 kg salmon taken from the Waiau River.

Road down to the mouth is a problem unless you have a jet boat. With a jet boat, the ride from Waiau East Road to the mouth takes only about ten minutes or so.

River access upstream of Leamington Road is also difficult as there are no road access points. A Four-wheel-drive vehicle is a definite advantage if you want to avoid a good deal of walking to good casting spots.

Many Canterbury anglers like to fish for salmon at river mouths. Unfortunate topography including a narrow gorge in the lower river and complete absence of road access makes fishing the Waiau River mouth the preserve of the jet boat equipped angler.

There is good trout fishing in the middle reaches of this river.

Bag Limits Eastern Zone

A salmon taken in the Waiau River. Photo Linley.

In the Eastern Zone below the Hope River confluence fishing is permitted all year with a limit of 2 trout and 1 salmon.

Natural bait fishing for trout is permitted in the Eastern Zone only. Bait fishing is only permitted in the Eastern Zone between 1 October and 30 April.

Wairau River Mouth

The Waiau River marks the northern boundary of Canterbury’s tremendous wild sea-run salmon fishery. Generally speaking, few Christchurch salmon anglers fish the Waiau River. Locals from the Cheviot area are at a definite advantage when it comes to awareness of recent salmon runs.

Other than by crossing privately owned farmland (for which you must obtain permission from the land-owner) the mouth of the Waiau River can only be accessed by jet boat. It is, however, a relatively short trip by jet boat from the State Highway One Bridge downstream to the mouth.

Above: Waiau River Mouth – Sourced from NZTopo50-BU26. Crown Copyright Reserved. On both maps, one blue square represents one square kilometre.
Waiau River at Spotswood – Sourced from NZTopo50-BU26. Crown Copyright Reserved.

Few Christchurch salmon anglers bother to make the 135km journey north to fish the Waiau River, especially as they would have to cross the Waimakariri and Hurunui Rivers on the way!

Bag Limits Western Zone

There is a one trout limit in the Western Zone above the Hope River confluence between 1 October to 30 April. You are not permitted to take salmon from the Hurunui River in the Western Zone at all. Any trout longer than 400mm caught in the Waiau River or its tributaries upstream of the Hope River confluence must be released unharmed back into the river.

North Canterbury Fish and Game – Hurunui and Waiau Rivers pdf brochure

This post was last modified on 07/04/2021 4:15 pm

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