The Ohau River Controlled Backcountry Fishery

The upper section of the Ōhau River from its confluence with Lake Ruataniwha upstream to the Lake Ōhau Weir, commonly known as the Upper Ōhau River, is a backcountry fishery and controlled area. Special licencing requirements apply to this river.    

Backcountry Licence Requirements

Ohau backcountry fishery map3All anglers who fish the (upper) Ōhau River must obtain a backcountry Licence Endorsement.

To get your Backcountry Licence Endorsement (available for free) click here. Only Whole Season (Adult, Junior, Child), Family, Loyal Senior, Non-resident and Local Area licence holders are eligible for a Backcountry Licence Endorsement.

All members of a family licence are covered by the endorsement.  

Controlled-Period Licence Requirements

To help maintain high-country fishery aesthetics and angler satisfaction, three ballots are held to distribute a limited number of controlled-period licences to fish the Ōhau River for the month of September and October only.

Winners of the ballots are issued with a Controlled-Period Licence.

Only anglers that are named on controlled-period licences are permitted to fish the Ōhau River in September and October for specified 2-3 day allocations. Any angler found by a Fish & Game Ranger to be fishing the Ōhau River during the controlled period without a valid controlled period licence will be processed for fishing without a licence.    

How does the ballot work? 

Anglers holding a valid whole season licence and a valid Central South Island Region backcountry licence for the Ōhau River are eligible to enter the ballots.

Three ballots will be held, the first for the Opening Weekend through to the second Sunday of the season (Period 1), the second for all allocations remaining in September (Period 2), and the third for all allocations in October (Period 3).

Within each ballot Period, party leaders must identify allocations they wish to ballot for in order of preference. 

There are three types of allocations:

  1. Opening Weekend - first Saturday & Sunday of September. Controlled Period Licences will be issued for up to a maximum of 30 anglers.
  2. Mid-week, Tuesday – Wednesday (2 days). Controlled Period Licences will be issued for up to a maximum of 12 anglers.
  3. Long weekend, Friday-Sunday (3 days). Controlled Period Licences will be issued for up to a maximum of 20 anglers in September and the first weekend in October and then 12 thereafter in October.

A party leader and up to three companion anglers can be included on a ballot period entry but each angler can only appear on one ballot period entry, regardless of whether they are a party leader or companion angler.

If an angler enters a particular ballot period more than once, all their entries will be void for that ballot period. Applications with incomplete or incorrect information will be void for that ballot period.

Information required for all anglers on ballot entry form includes:

  • Full name
  • Current season licence number for applicable ballot (21/22 licence for September ballots and new 22/23 licence for October ballot)
  • Valid email address        

The ballot will be drawn at least two weeks before its earliest allocation start date.

Anglers will be advised by email if they are successful with their ballot entry and issued with a Controlled Period Licence.

For more information please contact Central South Island Fish and Game on 03 615 8400 or 

2022 Ballot entry dates and allocations schedule:

Ballot Period Allocation Dates Allocation name Ballot entries open Ballot entries close Approximate notification
1 3 - 4 September Opening Weekend 15-Jul 1-Aug 2-Aug
1 6 - 7 September mid-week 1 15-Jul 1-Aug 2-Aug
1 9 - 11 September long weekend 2 15-Jul 1-Aug 2-Aug
2 13 - 14 September mid-week 2 10-Aug 24-Aug 25-Aug
2 16 - 18 September long weekend 3 10-Aug 24-Aug 25-Aug
2 20 - 21 September mid-week 3 10-Aug 24-Aug 25-Aug
2 23 - 25 September long weekend 4 10-Aug 24-Aug 25-Aug
2 27 - 28 September mid-week 4 10-Aug 24-Aug 25-Aug
3 1 - 2 October weekend 5 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 4 - 5 October mid-week 5 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 7-9 October long weekend 6 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 11-12 October mid-week 6 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 14-16 October long weekend 7 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 18-19 October mid-week 7 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 22-24 October Labour weekend 8 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 26-27 October mid-week 8 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep
3 28-30 October long weekend 9 27-Aug 7-Sep 9-Sep


Online Ballot Entry Form

The Period 3 ballot closed at 5pm on September 7th, 2022. 

The Ōhau River controlled period ballots are now completed for 2022.

Check back in at this website in June 2023 for notification of the 2023 ballots.

Missed out of winning a ballot?

All anglers holding a valid backcountry licence endorsement for the Central South Island Fish & Game Region can fish the Ōhau River during the traditional "high-country" sports fishing season  - 1st Saturday in November to 30 April.

Fishery Monitoring

A short survey will be made for all controlled period licence holders to evaluate their controlled period angling effort, catch and experience during September.

Please be sure you have provided your correct email address. Your contact information will be confidential and is strictly for Fish & Game survey purposes only.

Central South Island Fish & Game look forward to the co-operation of all anglers and your assistance to help manage this unique fishery for current and future licence holders.

Compliance Monitoring

These regulations have been adopted to manage angler use of this high valued one-of-a-kind fishery.

While we appreciate it won’t suit all anglers, we urge people to ensure they only fish these waters in September and October if they have the correct controlled period licence.

To maximise the benefits of these changes, Fish & Game will be monitoring compliance on the Ōhau River during the season.

Non-compliance with the backcountry licence and controlled period licence requirements is an offence under the Conservation Act and subject to a maximum fine of $5,000, and will be treated the same as fishing without a licence offence.

We look forward to your cooperation in the management of these fisheries and hope you enjoy your season.  

Please Avoid Nesting Terns

There is a major nesting colony of the threatened black-fronted tern on an island about halfway up the river. The birds are actively nesting from late September through the October period (and beyond) and they will aggressively dive bomb anyone who comes close. If you encounter this behaviour, please move on, and do not cross to the island. Drones are not permitted to be used in this area.

Tern Island2