Top Fly Fishing Spots in New Zealand

Even though it's great to be out there doing it, eventually you’re going to want to land some trout! Relaxing in the scenery or trying out some new flies can be a bit of a let-down if you don't actually land a trout. 

We all know that fly fishing is a terrific activity and it isn't all about the size of the catch, but it is nice to be able to come back with a story and some photos at the end of the day. In this article, we’ve teamed up with the guys at Fly Fisher Pro to bring you some of the best fly fishing spots in NZ.

New Zealand has an abundance of great rivers for trout (and even Salmon down south), serving up some great sport and challenges – let's take a look at some of the best of them.

Copy of 2019 01 23 fly fisher pro Waikaremoana Tributary Mokau River

Fly Fisher Pro's Ben Kepka knows all the best fly fishing spots in NZ!

Tongariro River

On the North Island and home of New Zealand's fly fishing, the Tongariro flows into Lake Taupō. Highly popular because of its rainbow and brown trout, fishermen need good footing in the fast-flowing water to make the best use of large flies and long tippets.

Fish typically weigh around 4 pounds and the best time to fish is the winter spawning period of April to November when fish are heading upstream.

Buller River

Closely rivalling Tongariro with an abundance of brown trout, the Buller River offers some of the best fly fishing in the country.

Similar to the Tongariro, the upper reaches have fast-flowing waters that offer more of a challenge than the lower reaches where it widens out on its route to the coast. The fish also get larger in the lower reaches, with an average size of plus three pounds.

Mohaka River

North Island's Mohaka River is a story of two parts. If you like a bit of a fight, the lower reaches are home to rainbow trout that will put up a battle against you landing them. Fish here are generally around 3 pounds in weight and congregate in large pools that are easy to get to.

The upper reaches are less accessible. It's a long hike or a helicopter ride to water that is pristine. If you want to experience true backcountry fishing, this is the place to go.

Copy of 2019 01 23 fly fisher pro Upper Mohaka

 Fly Fishing Upper Mohaka - Photo Credit Ben Kepka Fly Fisher Pro

Ahuriri River

If you are an accomplished angler, you will relish the challenge of the Ahuriri River. Rising in the Southern Alps, the upper reaches have crystal clear pools in which brown trout can grow to a mighty ten pounds.

The trout are in greater abundance but much smaller in weight (on average, between two and three pounds) in the lower reaches where the river traverses tussock plains.

An inexperienced caster will find fishing here most accessible in late summer and early autumn.

Eglinton River

Flowing for 30 km through the stunning Fiordland National Park, the Eglinton is generally a friendly river to fish although there are some inaccessible areas.

It has a stable shingle bed and plenty of brown trout weighing in around three pounds, mostly around Walker Creek. Do take care to stay within conservation guidelines!

Mataura River

Bringing a whole new meaning to fly fishing, the Mataura River is not for you if you don't like being bothered by sand flies (aka midges) in summer. The flipside of this is that they are in such numbers that the brown trout regularly come to the surface to feed.

Put on a face net and slap on some insect repellent to enjoy some supreme dry fly fishing. There is a greater number of fish in the upper reaches of this 150-kilometre river that is in the most part, easily accessible.

Copy of 2018 11 08 Upper Mataura River

 Fly Fishing Upper Mataura River - Photo Credit Ben Kepka, Fly Fisher Pro


Motueka River

For anglers that appreciate their surroundings as much as the waters, the Motueka River is hard to beat for fabulous scenery. This area of the top end of South Island is rather spectacular and the banks are rimmed with lush vegetation. The river itself is also a scenic landscape with different types of water along its length.

If you want a wilder experience, wade through the upper reaches, otherwise, you'll find rainbow and brown trout of two-five pounds in most places.

Rai River

Ideal for the fisherman who likes to fish smaller rivers for easily sighted fish, the Rai River provides excellent sport. The river has interesting topography with riffles, long glides, deep pools, and rapids but it's easy to wade the waters with very few parts of the river out of reach.

The larger numbers of fish of an average of two-three pounds above the falls. If you want bigger fish of three-four pounds, make your way to the headwaters or the confluences with the tributaries.

Clutha River

The fastest flowing of all New Zealand's fly fishing rivers, the Clutha can be intimidating for the novice or nervous angler. The payback, however, is really good numbers of fish, mainly brown and rainbow trout.

Most anglers stick to the upper reaches where there's mostly stable gravel and stone bed with big boulders. You might be lucky to hook a salmon in the lower reaches towards the sea.

Copy of 2019 01 18 ben kepka flyfisherpro Upper Mohaka


Get out there and give fly fishing a go!

For more info on how you can get started fly fishing New Zealand then check out the full article at Fly Fisher Pro. We break down everything you need to know. From recommended flies, and licenses, to a comprehensive list of spots to get your line wet!

We're lucky to be blessed with such great fly fishing locations in New Zealand. This was a list of our choices, but we'd love to hear of your personal favourites. Do drop us a note telling us where you love to fish, or just to comment on anything fish related.

The easiest way to get to all best spot is in your own rental car, so pick up the car of your choice from one of Omega Rental Car's 11 locations nationwide, such as their Omega's Christchurch Airport depot!  They provide excellent hassle free service and economical rates, so you'll have more time and money left for your fishing - which is the priority after all!