New Zealand has a unique system in the world where anglers and hunters can have a voice in how the sports fisheries and game bird resources are managed. It is an historical and popular system of users paying for, and holding a governance role over the management of the resource they enjoy, which dates back over 100 years.
Fish and Game Councils are independent bodies elected every three years by holders of current adult whole-season game bird and freshwater fishing licences. Councils set the outcomes that they wish their staff to achieve. Councillors govern the organisation and democratically define priorities for operational work undertaken by staff.
Become an elector, or put your name forward to stand as a councillor.
The next election is in November 2024 so to be able to vote and/or stand as a candidate in that election you need to register your intention and enrol – by purchasing an adult whole season licence (or primary holder of family licence) for the 2023/24 fishing season, or a game adult whole season licence for the 2024 game season and noting your wish when filling in the licence details.
Each of the 12 Fish & Game Councils have details of fishing and hunting locations in their region, along with access information and maps.
Much of this information can be located by visiting the various regions' homepages on this website. To do this click on your region of interest on the clickable map at the top-right of every page.
Fish & Game NZ is a user pays/user says system. Everyone wanting to go sport fishing or game bird hunting must buy a licence first. Licenceholders can stand for their local Fish and Game Council and vote for the Council’s members.
We have 12 regional Fish & Game Councils with regional offices.
The national council, with an office in Wellington, coordinates regional activities and speaks for anglers and hunters on issues of national importance.
Each council has up to 12 members, elected by the licence holders of the region. An election is held every three years. Every regional Fish and Game Council selects one member to sit on the New Zealand Fish and Game Council.
Councils employ professional staff to carry out their work. The total number of people employed by Fish and Game Councils around the country is about 80.
We also have about 250 volunteer rangers who give up their time to ensure that fellow anglers and hunters have licences and follow fishing and hunting regulations.
We control the impact on stocks by setting fishing and hunting regulations.
The regulations cover the length of fishing and hunting seasons, the equipment that can be used, and the number of fish or birds that can be taken in one day (the ‘bag limit’).
Regulations can vary from location to location. For example, a large lake with good fish stocks can often be fished all year round and anglers can keep six fish a day, while a near-by small stream might only be open during summer with a bag limit of one.
Fish & Game NZ staff and volunteer rangers monitor anglers and hunters to make sure they are licenced and are not breaking the regulations.
Fish & Game staff also work closely with Police to stop organised poaching rings which can destroy fragile fisheries by using nets and spears, and taking large numbers of trout during the breeding season.
Yes. We make a major effort to look after waterways, water quality and wetlands.
Much of this work is done under the Resource Management Act, through hearings with local government.
This type of work includes protecting streams and rivers from development and water abstraction, ensuring water quality is protected from illegal dumping and pollution, and that wetlands are protected from drainage.
Habitat protection work is the most important part of our role. Without good habitat there can be no sports fish or game birds, and so no fish and game sports.
This work also benefits anyone who values quality water and wetland environments, and the many species that inhabit these places.
Most of the time there is no point in adding more fish or birds to an area that is already well stocked.
This is a bit like having a paddock that can carry 10 sheep – there is no point in adding another 10 sheep unless the paddock (the habitat) is improved so it can produce twice as much feed. This is why Fish & Game NZ concentrates on habitat protection rather than stocking.
In some special cases, stocking is important. The most obvious example is the Rotorua lakes.
These lakes have few streams needed for trout breeding so we breed them in a hatchery, and release young fish into the lakes, where they thrive and support a priceless fishery.