If you are a visitor from overseas planning more than a brief fishing trip, you must buy a Non-Resident Licence (NRL).
A non-resident is defined as a person who is neither a New Zealand citizen nor a permanent resident (as those terms are defined in section 4 of the Immigration Act 2009). As noted above, a New Zealand citizen (by birth certificate, passport, citizenship) is not a non-resident, regardless of place of residence, & therefore does not require a NRL.
A non-resident licence entitles the holder to fish for sports fish for 12 months in the period beginning on 1 October and ending on 30 September in all Fish and Game regions excluding the Taupo Fishing District. A non-resident licence is necessary if you want to fish in a designated backcountry fishery for which you need to get a backcountry endorsement.
If you only want to experience a short fishing excursion, anywhere from a few hours to a full day, you can purchase a One Day Licence. However, remember that only the non-resident licence allows you to fish the backcountry waters.
An NRL entitles an Adult (18 years and over on 1 October) to fish anywhere in New Zealand (except the Taupo Fishery administered by the Department of Conservation).
The NRL costs $163 and is a Whole Season Licence, valid from October 1 to September 30. After an NRL has been purchased the holder can apply for a Backcountry Licence and Controlled Fishery Licence at no additional cost.
Non-Resident Licences can be purchased online or in person (if you are in New Zealand) at a hunting or fishing store that sells licences – agents with online purchasing facilities are able to issue NRLs.
Visitors can apply for and have their licence mailed to them at an international address in advance of their trip to New Zealand, but need to allow at least 15 working days before departure for it to reach them in time. Otherwise a postal address in New Zealand can be provided so the licence is ready for collection on arrival.
Non-resident anglers are not eligible for standard Adult Whole Season, Family Whole Season or Winter Season Licences.
The legislation makes any angler found fishing with the “wrong” licence liable to prosecution as though they have no fishing licence.
The maximum penalty for this offence is $5,000. The revenue gained from Non-Resident Licences has been ring-fenced and dedicated to management of back country fisheries.