Fly fishing NZ rivers

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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2023 4:33 am

Fly fishing NZ rivers

Post by trachinotus » Thu Nov 02, 2023 4:41 am

Hello all,
I am on sabbatical this academic year (August 7th 23 through May 24) and I would love to hike and fly fish rivers in NZ. I am originally from the French Alps but am a shcolar in South Florida (Limnologist specialized with eutrophication and phytoremediation). I am planning for a 10-15 day trip including travel and I plan on taking my hiking gear to keep the cost low (I am 1/2 pay this year).
Thanks for helping me out with this.
PS. I live in South Florida (so, can help in return) and also lived in West Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles.

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Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:06 am

Re: Fly fishing NZ rivers

Post by C_Claycomb » Fri Nov 03, 2023 6:25 pm

You tell people what you are doing, but you haven’t asked any questions or stated what you want advice or help with. Typically, questions are followed by “?”. If you had said “I am planning for a 10-15 day trip including travel and I plan on taking my hiking gear to keep the cost low (I am 1/2 pay this year). Can anyone suggest good areas where I could hike and fish?” that might get answers, but only maybe. New Zealand fishermen do not usually share or suggest places for visitors to fish since thousands of visitors are always searching the internet for tips of where to go. The lads here post up a river name, and before they know it, it’s over fished because dozens of non-member Google searchers decide to give it a try too.

NZ is a deceptively big place, if all you have is 10 or even 15 days, you need to focus on a small portion. There can be good fishing everywhere, but there is more picture postcard scenery in the South Island, but the fishing is usually more difficult (on average fewer fish, clearer water) than North Island.

Also, need to be clear on terms and what you want to do. Hiking does not imply over night trips, or camping. You can stay in motels and go hiking every day. Backpacking might imply you are hiking and camping, but really just means you are travelling with your world in your pack. Camping can be done while driving around, no hiking needed. When I travel I tend to hire a car, camp out of the car and go on day hikes with occasional overnights on trail.

Note that unless you buy a year’s license, you won’t be able to buy day permits for Designated waters, which tend to be the ones that look the most amazing in photos and have the famous big fish.

Check out the DOC hut system. Places to stay overnight in the backcountry, often in places you would enjoy hiking to. Also for ideas on rivers and access.


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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2023 4:33 am

Re: Fly fishing NZ rivers

Post by trachinotus » Sat Nov 04, 2023 10:37 am

Hello Chris, thanks for the answer. When I fish in the mountains in France where I am originally from, I do what you wrote: park somewhere and day hike and flyfish but I also do 2-3 day backpack (bivouac) kind of trips which offers access to remote locations and also to be able to fly fish spots at sunrise and sunset. I have given tips about specific spots using the PM option if I feel that the board is not a good place for me to share particular spots. I also have been able to get to flyfish with locals in some places I traveled to. I enjoy as much meeting people as flyfishing with those and I have now some friends all around the globe which sometimes come visit me in Florida and stay home and fish from my flatsboat. I have in particular a friend I have met on the Internet with whom I have since flyfished for over 20 years now.
I flyfish with some guides sometimes in Florida when they need someone to pole the boat who is also good at spotting and catching fish. I of course am not allowed to say where I fished and even come fish those spots on my own. Maps are on the money, I understand that.
I also have fished with colleagues from other universities too. Not necesarilly from the same field but I think I have good conversation also about my work on protecting limnosystems and coastal areas and wetlands.
Anyhow, thanks for the answer and hope to get more info here from someone more altruistic.
Cheers and tight lines.

Mark B
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2023 3:11 am

Re: Fly fishing NZ rivers

Post by Mark B » Sun Nov 12, 2023 3:49 pm

I suggest you get John Kent’s book on the South Island.
As the other poster said, NZ is deceptively big. Either concentrate on a Fish & Game region or plan a realistic road trip.
The new designated waters will potentially make the planning and access more problematic. Beware that the weather in NZ is unpredictable at times and the mobile internet access can be very patchy particularly when you are near any of the designated waters so buying tickets on the day you intend fishing will not necessarily be as straightforward as you may think. Furthermore there does not appear to be any means to obtain a refund. Buying a ticket does not guarantee access to the river if someone else is already fishing. Also there is a region limit on tickets and you don’t get to exceed your allocation if the weather is bad and you can’t fish.
There is plenty of good fishing outside of the designated waters but large parts of NZ now have dramatically reduced access such as the whole of the Lewis Pass and much of the water around Queenstown and Wanaka.
Don’t ignore the Lake fishing. It is grossly underutilized by fly fishermen and offers good sport. Many of the lakes have camping.
It’s probably a good idea to fish NZ this season as it is likely access will become even more restricted next year.
The Department of Conservation provides some good camping and you can buy tickets in advance online.
Be aware NZ has become very expensive since Covid. Hire cars from the big brands are outrageous. Fuel is expensive. Motels and camping have become far more expensive. Last year the level of service in restaurants had deteriorated significantly in some popular spots, presumably due to lack of staff and cost of rental accommodation. Also note guides are around $1000/day.
Personally I think pre-Christmas is the best time to fish. You don’t get the cicadas but there is reliable water levels and the fish are in better condition.
Don’t be completely obsessed with the stalking/sight fishing. There is plenty of water in the south (even on some of the designated waters) where euronymphing works. Carrying two rods can be worthwhile. Good luck

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Re: Fly fishing NZ rivers

Post by trachinotus » Wed Nov 15, 2023 12:15 am

Thanks for the great info. I wont be able to get there during or before Xmas as I have commitments. I am probably shooting for February. I am trying to get there when fishing here is not spiking.

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