Wellington Backcountry Fisheries

The Wellington Fish and Game region manage two back country fisheries.

They are situated within the Rangitikei River and Whakaurekou River catchments.

Backcountry licence endorsements for the Upper Rangitikei and Whakaurekou rivers can be purchased online for $10 by clicking here.

You must have a 2019/20 whole season licence to purchase a Backcountry licence endorsement.

If you have any questions please contact wellington@fishandgame.org.nz 

The rivers that are covered with this endorsement are:

  • Upper Rangitikei
  • Whakaurekou River

The Whakaurekou River back country fishery:

Open Season: 1 Oct – 30 Apr
Methods: Fly and Spin
Bag Limit: One fish
Fish Length Limit: Maximum length 450mm
The Whakaurekou River back country Fishery means the Whakaurekou River from the confluence of the Rangitikei River, including the tributaries within the Ruahine Ranges (namely the Mangatera, Maropea and Waikamaka Rivers).

The Upper Rangitikei River back country fishery:

Open Season: 1 Oct – 30 Apr
Methods: Fly and Spin
Bag Limit: 1
Fish Length Limit: 550mm (Trout greater than 550mm must be returned).
The upper or headwaters of the Rangitikei River and its tributaries (north of the Ohinewaione Stream confluence, 9 km upstream of the Springvale Bridge) has been designated as a back country fishery (see Map below).

The headwaters of the Rangitikei River are both nationally and internationally significant as a rainbow trout fishery.


The upper Rangitikei River is quite difficult to access. Flying in via helicopter is the usual option adopted by most anglers, however, there are tracks where tramping in is possible (although it can take one to two days). Another difficulty is the large proportion of land that is in private ownership, and is leased to various operators/guides. Similarly, a large proportion is Defence Force land, administered by the NZ Army. Wellington Fish & Game is currently investigating ownership and access issues.

wellington backcountry 1Photos courtesy of Mr J MacKenzie

Previous back country surveys have shown aesthetic factors (natural environment/scenery, clear water, peace and solitude) rate ahead of fishery factors - reinforcing the notion that anglers are seeking a remote experience while fishing, over and above other factors. The presence of too many anglers detracts from this experience.

Fish & Game has increasingly been questioned about its role in actively managing appropriate levels of angler use to preserve a high quality angling experience. Currently the fishery is managed only on biological factors (abundance and size of trout). Restrictions are imposed on the size (trout  over 550mm in length must be returned), number of trout allowed to be killed each day (limit of 1), the length of the fishing season ( October 1 to April 30), and the fishing methods allowed to be used (spin and fly fishing only).

Stop Didymo from entering the North Island:

Please read the attached important information.


Fish & Game will have a strong presence in the upper Rangitikei this season. Non-compliance with the new regulations is an offence under the Conservation Act and subject to a maximum fine of NZ$5,000.

Proposed Survey:

It is expected a very short web-based questionnaire will be sent by email to all of the back country licenceholders, to evaluate their back country experience. The provision of an email address will be confidential and is strictly for Fish & Game survey purposes only. Entering a false email address or not filling out the survey could hurt your chances in the future to obtain a back country endorsement.

Wellington Fish & Game staff look forward to co-operation from all anglers and your help in managing this unique fishery for current and future licenceholders.

wgtn fishery4Further Information (including access): Wellington Fish and Game
P.O. Box 1325,
Palmerston North 4440
Ph 06 359-0409 Fax 06 356-2780
Email wellington@fishandgame.org.nz