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Local Fishing Locations & Access

Fish & Game New Zealand’s Central South Island region extends from the south bank of the Rakaia River in the north, to Moeraki in the south. With their headwaters in the Southern Alps, the Waitaki and the Rangitata are the region’s biggest rivers These are noted chinook salmon fisheries with trophy fish of 15kg and more being regularly reported.

Lesser rivers including the Opihi-Temuka, Ashburton and Kakanui which, together with many high country lakes, are habitat to substantial brown and rainbow trout fisheries. Sockeye salmon and fontinalis add variety for the keen angler. This region offers some of the best wilderness angling waters in the country. Without the usual visible trappings of civilisation, fishing in streams meandering through open tussocklands and beech forest against a backdrop of the Southern Alps is a special experience.

ASHBURTON RIVER:

One of our smaller salmon rivers, the Ashburton River is popular with local anglers and visitors alike. The Hakatere Huts on the North bank provide access to the mouth. The area attracts salmon and trout anglers, particularly trout anglers early in the season looking for sea run browns.

A number of ford crossings provide access to the main river and its two main branches; the North Ashburton and South Ashburton rivers. Good fishing water is available on the former upstream from SH72 and for the South Ashburton upstream from the junction of Taylors Stream at Valetta.
 

RANGITATA RIVER:

The Rangitata River is famous for its salmon fishery. It originates high in the Southern Alps and is prone to floods and freshes from high rainfall and snowmelt, particularly from warm nor’west wind conditions that occur frequently throughout the main salmon season from November to March. However the duration of unfishable periods is usually short and good fishing can be experienced as discoloured waters begin to clear. Best fishing at the mouth is generally December and January. Upriver salmon fishing is better from January to March.

The Rangitata is also noted for its sea run brown trout early in the season.

Rangitata Mouth
There are fishing hut settlements on both the north and south side of the river mouth. To reach the north side huts travel via the Hinds-Rangitata Mouth Road which turns off from SH1, 2km south of Hinds township. Travelling from the south, turn off immediately north of Rangitata Bridge along the Ealing-Coldstream Road. For the south side huts; travelling from the north on SH1 turn off at Rangitata Store along Edgar Road and follow the sign post directions. From the south turn off at Temuka township and again follow the sign posts.

North Bank – North Bank Huts to SH1
Between the North Side Huts and SH1 there are two main points of access from the Ealing – Coldstream Road at the irrigation outfall (8.5km) and Old Main South Road (16km). It is 2.5 from here to SH1.

South Bank – Mouth to Mesopotamia
On the south side, access to the river is available at Badham Road (known as Wades Crossing, 12km from mouth), Dip Road (15km), Brodie Road (18km), and Old South Road (19.5km). It is a further 2.5km from here along the Rangitata Island Road to SH1.

Proceeding upstream via Arundel-Rangitata Road, the river can be accessed at Lewis Road (6km from SH1) before joining SH72 at the Arundel Bridge (10km). Best parking at Arundel Bridge is on the South Side.

From Arundel Bridge, travel via Ferry Road to Peel Forest and then along the Rangitata Gorge Road. Access to the river is at Ferry Road, Peel Forest camping ground, Lynn Stream, Mt Peel Station and Raules Gully (19km from Arundel Bridge).

At this point the road swings away from the river but rejoins at Whiterock Station. At Rata Peaks 10km upstream from here, Fishermans Lane leads to the river. Access is also available at Forest Creek, a further 8km towards Mesopotamia.

North Bank – Arundel to Klondyke
There is only one access point in this section. From Arundel Bridge continue along SH72 for 6km and turn off at the Five Crossroads corner along the Ealing Montalto Road. A further 14.5km brings you to the Klondyke Terrace Road. This is a public road only as far as the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) bridge (2km). Beyond there for the next 4km to the river the road is owned and maintained by RDR Management Ltd who allow vehicle access at your own risk.

The road ends at the RDR intake; beyond there the landowners of Klondyke and Tenehaun Stations permit foot access only to allow anglers to fish the gorge area. All they ask is that anglers recognise they are on private land and they observe the following public courtesies. No guns or dogs and observe all signage which has been erected for your protection and safety.
 

WAITAKI RIVER:

Second only in flow to the mighty Clutha River to the south, the Waitaki is widely recognised for its magnificent salmon and trout fisheries. Modified by extensive hydro electric power development over the last 60 years, the Waitaki and its extensive hydro lakes and canals provide quality sportsfish which attract local and tourist anglers alike.

Waitaki Mouth
Access to the river mouth may be gained from either the north or south sides. From Glenavy SH1, Fisheries Road leads to Waitaki Huts carpark overlooking the river mouth. To reach the beach is either a long walk round the lagoon or a short trip across it by dinghy. Two walking tracks in the final kilometre before the Huts leads to good fishing from rock groyne remnants. On the south side, and about 1.5km south from Waitaki Bridge, Kaik Road leads to the Kaik Mouth Motor Camp and carpark at the coast; a short walk along the beach to fishable water.

North Bank – Waitaki Bridge/Glenavy to Waitaki Dam
Travelling west along the north bank to Kurow via the Glenavy-Tawai Road the river is accessible from Henstridges Road (3km from Glenavy) and Ferry Road (5.5km). Following along Old Ferry Road and then after about 1km, along the Tawai-Ikawai Road, the river may be accessed at Ross Road, commonly referred to as Bells Pond, some 10kms from Glenavy. From Ross Road Junction it is 7.2km to SH82. A further 6.8km along SH82 brings you to the Stonewall where the road meets the river. The road is narrow along this section; park at the east end and access the river at the irrigation intake.

For the next 30kms toward Kurow there is no public access, however, just before the Hakataramea River Bridge (1.2km), an unmarked gate gives access to the river along the top of a stopbank. Drive through the Hakataramea township to continue along Old Slip Road where after two gates the road ends at the river’s edge. Twin Bridges, joining Hakataramea and Kurow townships provides angler access upstream and downstream.

South Bank Access – Waitaki Dam to Waitaki Bridge/Glenavy
Upstream from Kurow the best access is at the Awakino River, 4km from Kurow; a short walk to the river. Proceeding downstream from Kurow along SH83, the river may be accessed at Otiake River (west side, 8km from Kurow), Otekaike River (east side, 12.5km), Priests Road (16km), Duntroon (west side of Maerewhenua River, 22km), and at Black Point (31km) where an unmarked road leads to a large settling pond for the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Scheme.

Between Black Point and Waitaki Bridge Huts there are 4 roads leading to the river; Goulding, Wilson, Jardine, and Ferry. Depending on flow, a short walk may be required from safe parking to the river.

The Waitaki River is a popular jet boating river. Launching by conventional vehicle is limited to SH1 bridge (south side), a marked track adjacent to the Kaik Motor Camp, Ferry Road, Duntroon (northern side of the Maerewhenua River) and at the Twin Bridges, Kurow on the island between the northern and southern braids.

POPULAR RIVER FISHERIES:

Hakataramea River
The Hakataramea River has both brown and rainbow trout and is restricted to fly fishing only. Best access is gained by travelling the true left bank (east side) on McHenry’s Road where the river follows the road for much of the 12km to Wrights Crossing. Above Wrights Crossing road access is available only along the west side of the river to its upper reaches above Cattle Creek. Except for a short section above Cattle Creek there are no marginal strips and land owner permission is required to cross land to reach the river.

Ahuriri River
The Ahuriri River flows into the Ahuriri Arm of Lake Benmore near Omarama. It is most scenic in the upper reaches where it provides trophy trout to the experienced angler. The Ahuriri River has long been considered a fishery of national importance and enjoys “Water Conservation Order” status. Upstream from Omarama access is from SH8 or from Birchwood Road which branches off SH8, 17km south of Omarama. The pristine upper river waters can be reached directly from the Birchwood Road or alternatively at Irelands Bridge or by walking down the Avon Burn.

Downstream from Omarama the north side of the Ahuriri River may be accessed from Ben Omar Road which turns off just over the SH8 bridge. The Ahuriri delta with Lake Benmore is best reached through Glenburn Station via an anglers access track about 5.5km from Omarama along SH83. A 20 minute walk from the end of the track takes you to the river mouth.

Tekapo River
The Tekapo River now harnessed for hydro power generation has a mean residual flow of 12 cumecs. Augmented by Fork Stream, Grays River, and the Mary Burn, the Tekapo River arguably produces more fish than any other river of the region and for this reason is rapidly gaining popularity. From Tekapo township access to the Tekapo River is gained from the Tekapo Canal Road which turns off SH8, 1.5km south of the township. Cross the bridge over the canal and proceed along the east side of the canal passing Pattersons Ponds before turning off the seal along a rough metal road which follows the west side of the Tekapo for some 35kms before reaching the old, now dry, Pukaki riverbed. There are any number of access points along this section.

Orari River
This river supports the occasional run of salmon but is mainly noted for its brown trout fishing within the lower reaches below Rolleston Road. Ohapi Creek is a springfed stream and enters the Orari about 1km above the mouth. About 5m wide and 0.5m deep, the Ohapi provides good spotting water for the fly angler. The Ohapi is bounded both banks by private land so get the landowner’s permission – they are usually quite receptive to angler requests.

Opihi River
This river supports good populations of both salmon and brown trout. Where previously salmon angling was restricted by regular mouth closure, with the new Opuha Dam operating to guarantee higher summer flows designed to maintain the mouth, it is to be hoped those days are over.

The Opihi and its main branches, the Temuka and the Waihi, are very popular angling rivers. These rivers may be accessed at any number of points; the more popular being for the Opihi, at Milford Huts, Wareing Road and SH1 on the north bank; and Waipopo Huts, Seadown Road, Roaring Camp Road, Saleyards Bridge (Pleasant Point), Hanging Rock Bridge and Raincliff Bridge on the south side. For the Temuka/Waihi system, SH1, SH72 and Coach Road are the favoured access sites.

Best fishing is from the mouth up to SH1 for both species. If brown trout are your preference try the Waihi above Winchester, the Te Ngawai above Pleasant Point, particularly early in the season, and the Opihi around the Hanging Rock Bridge.

Pareora River
The Pareora is mainly noted for its sea run browns early in the season when river flows are elevated following the spring thaw. From December onwards the river suffers from low flows, made more extreme by water abstraction for public water supplies and irrigation. Best access is from the Pareora River Road that follows up the south side.

Waihao River
One of our smaller rivers, this is none the less a little gem for brown trout anglers. Good fishing at the mouth from the ‘ Box’ upstream to Bradshaws Bridge. Upstream the willow lined banks and tranquil deep pools of the lower gorge provide for a nice change from the typical braided river. Unfortunately access is limited to only two points; where Gum Tree Flat Road meets the river, and at McCulloughs Bridge.

CENTRAL SOUTH ISLAND LAKES:

Ashburton Lakes
Nestled between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers of Mid Canterbury lie the Ashburton Lakes. This group of lakes is popular with anglers with a permanent fishing village situated between Lakes Camp and Clearwater. The area is reached from Mt Somers township via the Ashburton Gorge Road. At Hakatere Corner (23km from Mt Somers), the road branches; right to Maori Lakes and Lake Heron and straight ahead to Spider Lakes and Lakes Clearwater, Camp, Emma, and Roundabout.

Lake Heron
Lake Heron, 15km from the Hakatere Corner is the largest of the lakes and is home to good populations of brown and rainbow trout. There is also the odd landlocked quinnat salmon. Rowboats and canoes may be used to fish but beware of the nor’wester which may quickly chop up the lake. Maori Lakes bypassed on the way to Lake Heron is surrounded by wetland and raupo swamp. Fishing from anchored rowboats is permitted here.

Lakes Roundabout, Emma and the Spider Lakes
On the road to Lake Clearwater 5kms from Hakatere Corner, a signpost marks the gate and vehicle track to Lakes Roundabout and Emma. On the opposite side of the road 4kms from the Corner there is a track which leads off to Spider Lakes. A short 1km walk is necessary if the track is muddy. Fishing from a moored row boat is permitted on Lake Emma, however boats are prohibited on Lakes Roundabout and Spider.

Lake Camp
Lake Camp, 9kms from the Corner, is the only lake where powerboating is permitted. Swimming, boating, and water skiing activities tend to dominate but during quiet periods the odd quality rainbow often rewards angler effort.

Lake Clearwater
In comparison Lake Clearwater is a place of relative peace and solitude. This scenic lake with its picturesque fishing village is 10km from the Haketere Corner. The Lake is open to both fly and spin fishing. While fishing from an anchored rowboat is permitted, most anglers prefer to walk the lake margins stalking the cruising browns with polaroids and an accurate cast. To reach the northern side away from the prevailing nor’westers drive past the village about 2km to the head of the lake and walk from there.
 

WAITAKI BASIN LAKES:

Lake Alexandrina
From Tekapo township, 2km south and AA signposted, the Godley Peaks Road will take you to Lake Alexandrina. Much smaller than Lake Tekapo, Alexandrina has long been considered the most productive of the lakes in the area. To reach the southern end, a side road leaves Godley Peaks Road at approximately 3.5km from the SH8 turn off. To reach the middle of the lake continue a further 5km and turn left past Lake McGregor to the outlet and fishing huts.

To reach the northern end of the lake return to Godley Peaks Road and drive to Glenmore Station, 5km from Lake McGregor. A track through deer paddocks then leads to the huts near the lake shore. Anglers are able to walk and fish from well worn tracks around the lake edge using either spinning or fly fishing techniques. Rowboats are permitted on Lake Alexandrina but must be moored when fishing Lake McGregor.

Waitaki Hydro Lakes
Well known to South Island anglers Lakes Waitaki, Aviemore, and Benmore cater for thousands of anglers every year. All are easily accessible by good roads, have facilities for camping, and are serviced by Kurow, Otematata and Omarama townships.

SH83 from Kurow to Omarama provides angler access to the south side of lakes Waitaki, Aviemore, and the Ahuriri Arm of Lake Benmore. There is no road access on the northern side of the Ahuriri Arm. The Haldon Arm of Lake Benmore can be reached by boat from the Ahuriri Arm, if driving however it will mean a drive to Twizel turning off at the Ruataniwha spillway and driving alongside the hydro canal to Ohau “C” power station. A metalled road continues around the southern shoreline of the lake for about 12km. The Haldon Arm can also be accessed via the Haldon Road which branches off SH8, 2km south of Burkes Pass.

HYDRO CANALS:

The hydro canals provide anglers with the chance to catch a fish of a lifetime – trout in excess of 10kg are not uncommon and in recent times a few have tipped the scales at over 15kg! As well as large trout the canals also offer the opportunity to catch sizeable salmon that have escaped from the various salmon farms. These fish are perfect for the table.

• Where to go and when?

Most angling activity occurs in the canals over the summer months, however, the fish don’t disappear and can be found throughout winter as well. The most popular areas tend to be at the respective salmon farms where trout and salmon are able to get a free meal, year-round, as they pick up the food scraps missed by the fish contained in the pens. Fish can be found throughout the whole canal systems though, and during summer if the water is clear they can often be seen cruising the edges. In winter try targeting the heads of each canal as fish tend to congregate in these areas over the spawning period.

• What to use?

Bait is the most common method for fishing the canals with shrimp and huhu grubs popular with both the anglers and the local fish population. Many other concoctions have been tried however some are illegal so be sure to check that your secret weapon and the way it is rigged complies with bait fishing regulations (first schedule in the regulation book). If you are unsure, contact the CSI Fish & Game office (06-615-8400) and they will give you the correct advice so you don’t end up in an awkward situation. Soft baits fished slowly along the bottom are also popular with some large fish succumbing to this method in recent times. Glow bug imitations can be lethal during winter through to early spring, particularly on rainbows as they take full advantage of the bounty of spilt fish eggs. Fly fisherman are catered for as well with sight fishing along the canal edges away from the salmon farms .