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NZ - South Island by motorhome


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Hi All,

I'm heading over to the South Island for a 3 week motorhome trip with the family in April. Fishing isnt a priority but I just know that I'll end up camping next to a river full of fish and if I dont have a rod and license I could be driven insane.

To head off this situation I just want to get a little feedback on the practicalities of dropping a line in, either salt or fresh. Can I expect to pull a fish out of a stream / river along the way or is it really necessary to have a guide and proper gear? Can I have a throw off the beach and actually catch something (exept Kawai)?

I was thinking of taking my SP bream gear and a long, whippy telescopic rod + 4000 real for the beach or large rivers. Any suggestions on the most practical outfits to take given I dont really know what I'll will be targeting?

Any suggestions or advice greatly appreciated.

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Hi Scienceman

You'll enjoy the South Island - it is NZ's best kept secret!!!

Lots of good fishing to be had - virtually every river that you cross will most likely have trout in them & some will have Atlantic Salmon!!

If you stay in the Nelson Area at all ....... the rivers on the way out of town (towards Richmond & Motueka) all have trout in them. You can flick Soft Plastics to try & snare them or even spinning celta type lures. It is a gorgeous part of the South Island. If your campervan has a good motor, the drive up the hill (call that Mountain!) to Takaka is a particularly pretty area too. We did Farewell Spit - the longest sand peninsula in the world, I think! Great fun. Pupu Springs is on the way - duck in there & see GIANT trout/salmon in the underwater observatory. Some of the salmon escaped some years back & I understand the local rivers now have a self sustaining population!! :yahoo:

Down Dunedin way, definitely got salmon in some of the rivers - the Rakaia (or similar spelling) from memory - down at the mouth, spinning with fairly big metal spinners (same we use for tailor & Aussie salmon) tho not sure if it would be 'the season' for them yet. See if you can get a current copy of their Ministries of Agriculture & Fisheries info here:


Looks like 4 different sections for the South Island now!

Your gear sounds perfect - light gear for trout, stronger gear for Beaches/snapper ! We did a fishing trip out into Pelorus Sound (Picton) and that was fun. Also out of Akaroa (east of Christchurch.) When in Queenstown, the boat that takes people to the steam train at the other end of Lake Wakatipu dropped me off at the mouth of a river, so I could fly fish it (BIG trout in that lake) - always worth asking if they'd do it again!! (you can only flyfish the river mouths for trout, no spinning from memory.)

Lots of the rivers around Queenstown are also old Gold Mining areas - you could try panning for gold at Arrowtown or walk the West Coast Beaches of Greymouth for Greenstone! It gets washed down in the rivers (as does the gold! too) and sometimes found on the beaches! One of the beaches had a big gold sluice working, going thru the sand on the shore, even!!

So many things to do there & so much top level fishing to be had! I think you DO need to buy a licence for the fresh water fishing, so check, before you start fishing.

Well worth doing the Doubtful Sound boat/bus trip, from Te Anau - I reckon it was better than the Milford Sound one!! Oh yeah - major SANDFLIES in that area - take some Gimp with you! They are ferocious!

Have fun - I look forward to reading your report, already!!



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I caught mainly snapper in the top half & Blue Cod down the bottom & didn't land a trout or salmon!! :wacko: It was fun trying tho!! Very trying!!! :074: They have cut the numbers of blue cod down in specific areas just recently. In Milford Sound, it is down to 2 only. Check out NZ CoastWatch on Channel 7, after the NZ Customs show, Sunday night 7.30-8.30pm. Always a good watch!

I was casting very small plastics at big brown trout, that I could SEE come out & check it out & then just 'peel away' from it! :mad3:

The north Island has big Kingfish everywhere - not sure if the south island does tho.

Where will you enter & leave NZ? There are some areas that rental campervans are not allowed to go - from memory it might be the Haast Pass & the Cordrona area out of Queenstown.

With 3 weeks, you could actually criss-cross the island, to take in the east & west coast. We landed at Picton, did Nelson Bay area, then across to Kaikoura, down to Hamner Springs, Lewis Pass to Hokitika (great greenstone pendants there) We did the glaciers, Wanaka, Mt Cook, Milford & Doubtful Sounds, Ohai, worked our way to Invercargill, ducked across to Stewart Island (famous for blue cod & Paua/abalone) at the bottom for 2 days, up the east coast, back into Cromwell, Timaru, Ashburton, Akaroa, Christchurch, then worked our way back up to the top again, to catch the ferry back to the North Island. We had about 4 weeks & preferred to spend a couple of nights at places, rather than just be driving all the time! You will find it really easy travelling - none of this 8hr drives between towns - 20-30mins more likely!!

I'd love to go back again, as I think I am a better fisho now & should catch more!! :wacko:

The whole place is just SO scenic! Picture Post card stuff!! Matter of fact, they put up huge 'empty picture frames' at some scenic shots, which show the best angle to take the pics from!! :1prop: The photo comes out 'ready framed'!

Make sure you take your camera charger & a couple of spare cards!


Edited by Roberta
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I may be back in Australia for good but make sure you check Fish and Game website for regs as each river has it own regs example in Wellington region The Hutt is fly and spin whereas the Makuri is fly only, the /rangitikei on the lowr north is chock full of feisty bows will to take a spinner on the South Island the Arnold, and Lake Brunner are great for spinning for big browns, try the rivers around Christchurch as well as the Salmon will be running now the Waimakakiri The Rakia are two, as for Kings go to the Bay of Islands not many if at all any Kings on the South Island though, the snapper were in full swing when I left.

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