Published On: Wed, Jan 28th, 2015

Surfcasting and land-based fishing near Christchurch City

Christchurch on New Zealand mapSurfcasting near Christchurch

New Brighton Pier Fishing (scroll down)

Here are some good shore fishing spots, all are within an hour’s drive from Christchurch City. Pack up plenty of food and drink when going to the beach. Some places like Birdlings Flat, Taumutu, and South Rakaia are a long way from the shops. There is nothing worse than not having enough to drink on a hot day. On these exposed shingle beaches it is a good idea to bring some sort of sun shade. Don’t drive your vehicle onto the shingle beaches. You will get stuck instantly and may have to walk a long way to get help. This same rule applies even to 4WD owners. The loose shingle will easily trap your wheels.

Only go swimming between the flags at places like Sumner, New Brighton and Taylors Mistake. The shingle beaches south of Banks Peninsula are steep, and there can be a powerful undertow. DON’T GO SWIMMING! Keep your eyes on the water at all times when surfcasting. Don’t surfcast if there is a big swell running. You could very easily be knocked off your feet and pulled in.

Shore based fishing locations around Christchurch City.

Shore-based fishing locations around Christchurch City.

Generally speaking, the beaches south of Banks Peninsula offer the best fishing for the surfcaster. These beaches are shingle, steeply shelving, and the water is much deeper close to shore. On the other hand, these beaches are also more dangerous because of the strong undertow present even in calm conditions.

Very long casts are not always necessary, or even desirable, south of the peninsula. It is just a matter of getting your baited hooks in behind the last breaker. The shingle is tossed up by wave action and can cause “stone bruising” so I find it pays to fish a heavier and harder line. Also, check your line regularly for nicks or stone damage. Use a tall surf spike (rod stand) and try to keep your line up off the bottom as much as possible.

Kahawai is almost always present off all these beaches both north and south of Banks Peninsula, particularly near the river mouths. It is always worth having a few casts with a ticer. The best method is to cast as far as possible and then wind the lure back in flat-out! Kahawai will see the ticer as a fleeing baitfish and go after it.

Amberley Beach Contest looking north east.

Amberley Beach Contest looking northeast.

Amberley Beach

Good surfcasting beach. Fishing better around mid to late winter. Not good for swimming. Tuatua found on the beach, particularly after rough weather. Excellent spot for kite fishing when the wind from the north west or south west. A camping ground with limited facilities. Fishing Contest on around 7 Jan each year. Amberley Beach Surfcasting Contest – Day of the Skate. This sea is shallow along this stretch of coast and so not the best for surfcasting. Most likely catches are small sharks. Red cod are caught in late winter. Kahawai sometimes chases baitfish very close to the beach. Amberley Beach Surfcasting.

Anglers spin fishing for kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth.

Anglers spin fishing for kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth.

Spin fishing for kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth

Spin fishing for kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth. Always a good option over summer. Kahawai are great fighters and tremendous fun when you fish for them on light-weight trout gear. Most days you are certain to catch kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth. Best to fish for them on the outgoing tide. The downside is that you will need a fishing license to spin for kahawai at the river mouth. You don’t need a license though if you are bait fishing for kahawai.

Waimakariri River

A top spot in the surf for kahawai at the river mouth. Kahawai also come into the river in the tidal zone. Waimakariri River Salmon Fishing from December onwards. Top spot for salmon at Mclntoshes Hole 2km from the mouth, drive down Ferry road and park car. Good camping ground at river mouth on the north side. Also red cod in the river close to mouth – best fishing after dark. Sometimes red cod caught here in big numbers. Heaps of yellow-eyed mullet present in river and surf – use size 10 hooks to catch them – either suspended rig with bubble float or spinning with tiny flies. Flounder also taken here.

The pier is a great place to take the kids fishing.

The New Brighton Pier is a great place to take the kids fishing.

Kahawai Fishing Waimakariri River mouth. In recent years we have seen a welcome return of the big kahawai schools that frequent the mouth of the Waimakariri River over the summer months. Huge schools of kahawai are found out in the surf zone at the mouth of the river. You don’t need any flash gear to catch them. The kahawai are feeding on smelt and other bait fish and will take almost any lure or bait. Though you are probably going to catch more kahawai on 20 to 40g silver fish-shaped jigs. Just cast out your lure and wind.

To spin for kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth your need a fishing license. The reason being if you are spinning you could catch sports fish (salmon or trout). You can also catch the kahawai on baited hooks fished on surfcasting gear. If using bait I would use flasher rigs with a small piece of squid, or the like, added to the hook.

If you are after the kahawai at the Waimakariri River mouth park in the carpark at Kairaki beside the camping ground and walk down the beach to the end of the river where the waves are. This is where the kahawai will be. If the kahawai are in you will be able to see all the people fishing for them – like in the picture above. It is alright to drive down the beach if you have a four-wheel-drive; but if in a car there is a good chance you will get stuck in the soft sand.

New Brighton Pier is a popular fishing spot.

New Brighton Pier is a popular fishing spot. At times it can be heavily congested.

New Brighton Pier

Very good fishing platform. Best fished at high tide. Good for red cod at night.

NO OVERHEAD CASTING ALLOWED – many tourists walk down to the end of the pier and overhead casting is just too dangerous. Either fish with a handline or just lower your baited hooks straight down with your rod and reel. Use heavy line and strong hooks as fish must be lifted up from the water. A drop net to land fish is also a good idea.

Crab potting has been banned because of damage to the wooden pier hand-rails! But you can still catch crabs by using tackle attached to your sinker. From the pier, you can catch kahawai, rig, school sharks, cod, mullet and others. One bloke landed a huge stingray by working it down the pier to the beach!

The New Brighton Pier is a good place to fish but tends to get very congested.

The New Brighton Pier is a good place to fish but tends to get very congested.

The end of the New Brighton Pier.

The end of the New Brighton Pier.

The New Brighton Pier can get very crowded at times. I would have liked to have seen a smaller fishing pier running at a right angle, at the end of the main pier, just for fishing. Perhaps it could have been made a metre or two lower than the main pier. A great idea but I guess it would have cost a fortune! Come to think of it, while I’m spending other people’s money, I’d also like to have seen the pier built twice as long!

Here is an update about the species that can be caught off the New Brighton Pier, they include: Kahawai, Yellow-eyed mullet, Red Cod, School shark, Rig shark, Dogfish, Sevengiller Shark, Skate, Elephant fish, Kingfish, Barracouta, Thresher shark, blue shark. I only know of one Kingfish caught this year. Thanks to Zac for the update. New Brighton Pier, Christchurch, N.Z.

If you are fishing on the New Brighton Pier please be considerate towards others. We all have to share the pier. Allow plenty of room for people to walk past your fishing spot. Don’t cast out; just lower your hooks over the side. Clean up all your rubbish. Avoid giving anglers a bad name.

New Brighton Pier Fishing Tips for Kids

If taking kids fishing from the New Brighton Pier I recommend you fish with small hooks for yellow-eyed mullet. There are usually lots of these fish around the pier, and along the beach. The secret to catching them is to use small hooks. Mullet have small mouths so those fishing with bigger hooks are unlikely to catch any mullet even when there are heaps of mullet present. The mullet will probably steal the bait without getting hooked. Mullet are a schooling fish and will often be found close to the pier piles feeding on algae. Kids enjoy catching a fish. When you are young any fish is a big fish! It is also a good idea to encourage kids to let the fish go alive back over the side of the pier after taking a picture – especially if you don’t intend to the eat the fish.  You are better off not using berley from the pier as it is very high from the water. There is likely so much bait in the water anyway that you won’t need it. Here are two articles with tips on how to catch mullet.

  1. Yellow-eyed Mullet.
  2. Catching Small Fish from Wharves 
  3. More Problems Fishing from the New Brighton Pier
The New Brighton Pier viewed from a boat.

The New Brighton Pier viewed from a boat. The photograph was taken by Allan Burgess not long after the officially opening on 1st November 1997.

Taylors Mistake and Black Rock

Park in the car park and walk along the track around the base of hills to the right. Black Rock Point juts out into the sea and has a good fishing platform. Yellowtail kingfish have been taken here from boats over the summer months. It is just a matter of time before someone takes one from the rocks. For kingfish, you need either a live bait (small kahawai or big mullet) suspended from a balloon, or jigs and poppers cast from shore and rapidly retrieved.

Bottom foul so be prepared to loose plenty of sinkers. Good swimming beach – surf patrol over summer. The author caught a big sevengill shark here – Sevengill Shark caught at Black Rock See also Rock Fishing at Black Rock, Banks Peninsula.

Lyttelton Harbour

There is a new fishing platform behind the Oil Wharf (sadly it was pulled down after the big earthquakes). This has been purpose built for fishing. You do need to make a short cast though as the water is too shallow otherwise. Red cod in the evenings and at night. Heaps of mullet (use small hooks). Access to the port has been almost completely closed off to the public in recent years. But sometimes one of the wharves is opened up for the public to go fishing. Unfortunately nowadays the entire Port of Lyttelton has been closed off to the public. You can still fish off the rocks around by the public slipway at Naval Point. The rest of the port is entirely fenced off and there are no wharves open for fishing.

Birdlings Corner is a popular surfcasting spot. It is also favoured by people looking for coloured stones.

Birdlings Corner is a popular surfcasting spot. It is also favoured by people looking for coloured stones.

Birdlings Flat

Excellent surfcasting at Birdlings Flat, and all the way south down the coast to the Waitaki River.

Long (12’0) surfcasting rods required in most conditions. Big shark sevengill sharks from beach, kahawai, occasional blue moki close to rocks, mullet, and very good red cod fishing in the evenings and after dark – best bait for cod is fresh mullet. I once fished this beach almost every week for many years. It nearly always produces good catches when conditions are right with an offshore wind from the north-west . When the red cod are biting you will be more successful if you use fresh yellow-eyed mullet for bait. You might like to take a look at Surfcasting at Birdlings Flat DO NOT GO SWIMMING AT BIRDLINGS FLAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – VERY DANGEROUS UNDERTOW.

Johnny Richards with a 17 pound elephant fish caught surfacsting at South Rakaia Beach on a pipi bait.

Johnny Richards with a 17-pound elephant fish caught surfcasting at South Rakaia Beach on a pipi bait.

Tumbledown Bay

One of the more out-of-the-way destinations I used to visit on the southern side of Banks Peninsula is Tumbledown Bay. The area is so isolated that on several occasions I have spent the whole day there without seeing anyone. The fishing is first rate, with most of the southern fish species represented. There is good rock fishing on the eastern side and you can also fish off the beach. You might like to read this article about fishing at Tumbledown Bay.

Surfcasting at Birdlings Flat, Taumutu Beach and Rakaia Beach

Combined fishing clubs surfcasting event held on the beach at South Rakaia Huts.

Combined fishing clubs surfcasting event held on the beach at South Rakaia Huts.

Excellent surfcasting beaches. Specialist surfcasting tackle with long rods required. Sevengill sharks can be caught all along this shingle coastline. Elephant fish caught here (use shellfish for bait) over the Christmas holiday period. Also big rig and school sharks. Huge kahawai schools sometimes chase baitfish right up onto the beach over summer. Also red cod, mullet, skate. Fishable on all tides. Kite fishing popular and successful when the wind is from the north-west.

Please check out our Surfcasting Tips for Beginners article which includes more surfcasting spots.

Wharf and Jetty Fishing Tips

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Displaying 3 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Many people have been complaining to the city council about the mess and rubbish anglers leave behind and the difficulty they have in walking past all the fishing rods and crab pot lines. I just hope this doesn’t eventually lead to fishing being banned on the pier.
    Salmon anglers often fish at river-mouths in close proximity with one another. At times almost touching shoulders. There is a certain unspoken etiquette which involves mutual respect for one another. Disputes are very rare. Sadly, some who fish from the New Brighton Pier seem to have never heard of this!

  2. Hi Shane, I can’t agree with you more about this. I used to go fishing on the old breakwater down past the container area. We would catch a lot of fish off there back-in-the-day! That was blocked-off years ago. It is a shame that the whole port has been closed off to fishing and has been for a few years now.

  3. Hi i am not to happy about not been able to fish over at lyttelton i use to go over all the time to catch sprat and at the same time set up a rig to do my salmon float fishing there are a lot of salmon over there and now i cant get to them i have court them up to 25kg most about 15kg mark just as well i can at lest still catch them on the sumner Break water i have been catching them for a few years now not a lot of people now of them as most of the time i catch them at night a well lit fishing warf just for fishing night our day over at lyttelton would be wonderful as the solmon come round well lit places as t do the sprat eney way just thourt i would share this

    S A Stringer

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