Fishing Locations and Access

Please view the information below for details of the Southland fishing locations and access.

Click here for our online map of Southland fishing access points

Aparima River:

Anthony McLean net RT crop horiz

Anthony McLean

The Aparima is the smallest of our large rivers. It enters the sea at Riverton and it has good fishing in its estuary. The middle reaches are accessible from roads that parallel the river for most of its length.

Anglers' access points are well signposted along these roads and are printed on our Northern Southland and Fishing Surrounds Invercargill access brochures.

Waiau River - Upper:

upper Waiau rainbow

upper Waiau rainbow

The Waiau drains the large western lakes but most of its water is diverted through a power scheme to the Deep Cove in Fiordland. However, a useful residual flow is discharged through the control gates just south of Lake Manapouri. The Waiau is really two rivers. One that flows from Lake Te Anau to Lake Manapouri and the one that flows from Lake Manapouri through the Mararoa Weir, to the sea.

The former is a very large river that fishes best in the late summer when caddis flies hatch. It is accessible from rough tracks that lead down to the river from the Te Anau to Manapouri road. The photo on the left is of a rainbow trout caught in the Upper Waiau. Our Te Anau Basin access brochure gives details.

Waiau River - Lower:

IMG 1214

Lower Waiau

The lower Waiau is a smaller river than the upper, but near the sea at Tuatapere, it is a large river with good fishing all year round. The first 30km downstream of the weir provides excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing but access is limited. Several new access points have been opened recently and these are set out on our Southern Scenic Route brochure.

The reaches from the Weir are mostly wadeable but care must be taken as the boulders are large and often slippery. Fishing from dry land is safer and usually just as productive.

Rainbow trout around 1kg predominate in this reach with many 2kg brown trout being caught too. The river flows through bush-clad gorges where access is very difficult but, once there, anglers can be assured of solitude.

The river gains a substantial flow from the Monowai River about 30km from the Weir and from here down fishing from a boat is permissible. Rainbows and browns are found from this point to the sea. From November to March, 4-5 kg Chinook salmon can be caught in this reach. They provide a nice surprise to a trout angler expecting a lively but much smaller rainbow to attack his lure.

The Waiau does not have a long estuary as other Southland rivers do but its lagoon is large and well-populated with brown trout.

Later winter and spring provide the best fishing, especially in the evening or early morning using a feather lure that imitates small baitfish, such as the native whitebait.

Mataura River:

mid mataura

mid Mataura

The Mataura is New Zealand's most fished brown trout river. It is a large long river with hundreds of places that provide excellent trout fishing.

Like all Southland rivers, perhaps even more so, its trout are difficult to catch for the newcomer, and even for the experienced angler catching trout on this river requires skill and local knowledge. The skill has to be learned but local knowledge can be gained from Southland Anglers who are usually willing to provide advice.

Fish and Game and local sports are good places to start. Many locals use worms to fish for Mataura trout but visitors prefer fly fishing. On the Mataura, there is room for all.

We have a Mataura River access brochure which really is needed to find the many access points available on this river.

Oreti River:

mid Oreti

mid Oreti

The Oreti is a large clear river with good stocks of brown trout throughout its length. Its estuary is about 20km long and easily accessible from Invercargill. More access details can be found in the Fishing Surrounding Invercargill access guide.

The middle reaches, near the towns of Winton, Dipton and Lumsden, contain smaller fish on average, but in the upper reaches the trout are larger. Good access is available at the Mossburn Bridge.

The middle reaches contain large numbers of backwaters. Trout can be found cruising these still waters throughout the day. Slowly sinking, dark-coloured, fur-style nymphs, about size 12, can usually get some interest from passing trout.

Care must be taken as the water in these is usually clear and the trout in them are wary.

The Catlins:

Upper Oreti

Upper Oreti

Surrounded by remote rainforest and rolling hill country, anglers seeking solitude and scenery will find the streams of the Catlins rewarding.

With consistently high annual rainfall and plenty of valley systems, anglers following the Southern Scenic Route between Balclutha and Footrose will discover numerous waterways to explore.

Access details can be found in our Southern Scenic Route and Fishing The Catlins.

All of the significant streams and rivers hold good populations of resident brown trout between 1-2 kg and in their lower reaches sea-run brown trout which can reach 3-4kg.

Southland Lakes:

Young Mavora angler scenic

Young Mavora

Southland lakes offer some superb fishing opportunities, particularly for rainbow trout. In addition, the scenery in the region is spectacular.

Details of access points and boat fishing tips can be found in our Successful Boat Fishing On Southern Lakes access guide.