If you’re 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).
A New Zealand citizen (by birth certificate, passport, citizenship) is not a non-resident, regardless of place of residence, and doesn’t require an NRL.
A non-resident licence entitles the holder to fish for sports fish for 12 months from October 1 to September 30 in all Fish & Game regions excluding the Taupo area which is run by the Department of Conservation.
Non-Resident Licences can be purchased online or in person (if you’re in New Zealand) at a hunting or fishing store that sells licences – these agents with online purchasing facilities are able to issue NRLs.
Overseas 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 their 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 a standard Whole Season Licence, Family Licence or Winter licence that are only available to NZ citizens.
But if you’re a visitor planning a short fishing trip anywhere from a few hours to a full day, you can buy a One Day Licence for $20 (but note that only the non-resident licence allows you to fish the back country waters).
An angler found fishing with the “wrong” licence can be prosecuted as though they have no fishing licence.
Part of the revenue from the sale of Non-Resident Licences is applied to the management of the country’s renowned back country fisheries.