Fishing Licence FAQs

The family licence is to encourage families to head out fishing.

The licence allows one person (the primary licenceholder), or one person and that person's spouse or partner (the secondary licenceholder) and their children or grandchildren (who are under 18 years of age on October 1) to fish together.

The secondary licenceholder may take the children named on the licence fishing (and fish themselves with the  children) without the primary holder taking part.

But only the primary licenceholder may use this licence to fish on their own. If family participants, including the secondary licenceholder, want to fish independently, they will need a separate licence.

For information on cost and other licences, click here.

The winter fishing season starts on 1 April and lasts until 30 September of that same year.

The back country fisheries licence is effectively an ‘add on’ to a whole season licence. Once endorsed, a whole season licenceholder can use the Back Country Fisheries Licence in Otago, Southland and Wellington back country fishery catchments, subject to the regulations that apply in each area.

Anglers are required to hold a Back Country Licence when fishing on the Greenstone, Caples, upper Lochy Rivers, the Dingle Burn, Nevis River, Hunter River, Young River and Wilkin River in Otago, the Ettrick Burn in Southland and upper Rangitikei in Wellington. There is no extra charge but you do need to register to provide Fish & Game with a full list of back country fishery users, and to enable us to monitor angler use of those areas.

Anglers must apply to the Otago, Southland or Wellington Fish and Game Council to have his or her licence endorsed as a Back Country Licence. If you want to obtain a Back Country Licence over the internet go to the Otago, Southland or Wellington pages of this website.

For the upper Rangitikei Back Country Fishery in Wellington, anglers must pay a universal charge of $25 to cover public liability insurance that meets land administrators' requirements for crossing land to access this fishery. 

Anglers must hold a Back Country Licence in order to apply for a Controlled Fishery Licence (see separate FAQ question).

Enquiries about Otago Backcountry or Controlled Fishery licences should be directed to s.milne@fish-game.org.nz or (03) 4779076.

Enquiries about Southland Backcountry or Controlled Fishery licences should be directed to southland@fishandgame.org.nz or (03) 2159117.

Enquiries about Wellington Backcountry Fishery licences should be directed to swray@fishandgame.org.nz or (06) 3590409.

The back country river fisheries covered by this endorsement are the Greenstone, Caples, upper Lochy Rivers, the Dingle Burn, Nevis River, Hunter River, Young, Wilkin and Pomahaka rivers in Otago, the Ettrick Burn and Oreti in Southland and upper Rangitikei in Wellington.

A back country licence is not required for any other catchments.

Visit your nearest Fish & Game office for brochures on where to fish and a plenty of tips and advice from officers there. A Controlled Fishery Licence is required to fish on the Upper Greenstone River (and its tributary streams) in Otago during the period between 1st February and 31 March.

A Controlled Fishery Licence is required to fish the Ettrick Burn during the period between 1 November and 31 May.

Angling opportunity is limited during that time so that anglers can have a reach of the river or ‘beat’ to themselves for a one or two day period.

The aim of this restriction is to preserve the quality of angling experience by limiting angler density. Licences are obtainable through an online booking system which operates five days in advance. A back country endorsement is required to enter the online booking area.

Enquiries about Controlled Fishery Licences should be directed to s.milne@fish-game.org.nz or (03) 4779076 for Otago or southland@fishandgame.org.nz or (03) 2159117 for Southland.

You may be able to upgrade your licence under certain conditions (see contact details below) but only within the same calendar month in which the licence was purchased.

If you have purchased a licence from a “retailer” then contact your local Fish & Game office who will advise the conditions under which you may be able to upgrade your licence. For contact details go to the Fish & Game website homepage, click the regions link at the top of the page, choose your region, open the menu and then click the 'Contact' link in the navigation column.

If you purchased your licence “online” on the Fish & Game website then contact the Fish & Game Licensing Administrator by email or call their freephone number 0800 542 362. They will advise the conditions under which you may be able to upgrade your licence.

Eight of the nine licence types cover all Fish & Game regions around New Zealand except Taupo, which is managed by the Department of Conservation.

Part season licences – One Day, Short Break and Long Break and Winter licences – all allow you to fish everywhere but the Taupo fishery.

All the full season licences except Local Area also allow you to fish everywhere but Taupo.

The Local Area Licence only allows you to fish in one region chosen when you buy it – and not outside that region.

Sports Fish: The Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983 Schedule 1 defines the following species as “sports fish”:

  • Brown trout (Salmo trutta):
  • Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, formerly known as Salmo gairdneri):
  • American brook trout or char (Salvelinus fontinalis):
  • Lake trout or char (Salvelinus namaycush):
  • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar):
  • Quinnat or chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha):
  • Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka):
  • Perch (Perca fluviatilis):
  • Tench (Tinca tinca):
  • Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) found or taken in the Auckland Acclimatisation District—

and includes any hybrid and the young, fry, ova, and spawn, and any part of any such fish; but does not include salmon preserved in cans and imported into New Zealand.

Contact the Department of Conservation Turangi Office on 07-386 8607– or visit http://www.doc.govt.nz and click on fishing licences. Taupo fishing licences are available from sports shops in the Taupo area.