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Waitaki River and Lake Waitaki Fishing

The Waitaki River and catchment is widely recognised for its magnificent salmon and trout fisheries. The river and its extensive hydro lakes and canals provide quality sportsfish which attract local and visiting anglers alike.

 

View maps
Fish type Quinnat salmon, brown and rainbow trout
Situation

The Waitaki River rises in the Southern Alps, drains three large high-country lakes and flows on an easterly course to enter the sea at Glenavy, north of Oamaru.

Maps

Upper Waitaki River:
Access map
Access map with topography

Lower Waitaki River:
Access map
Access map with topography

LINZ topographic maps: 1:50,000 (260 series)

Check conditions

River flow

View a graph of the current Waitaki River flow at the Environment Canterbury website

Weather forecast

For an up-to-date weather forecast:

Waitaki lakes pamphlet The Waitaki Lakes Recreational Information pamphlet, available at the Environment Canterbury website, includes sections on the lakes, safe boat navigation, camping, hydro power station statistics, wildlife and plants, local walks, and important contact information.
The Lower Waitaki

The Waitaki is a large braided river, with a flow second only to that of the Clutha River. Because it is used to generate hydro electric power, anglers need to beware of sudden fluctuations in the the water level. The clarity of the water is usually good in summer.

The Waitaki flows over an unstable shingle bed. Willow trees line the banks in many parts. 

Fish numbers and size

Good-sized brown and rainbow trout.
Good sea-run salmon at the mouth.

Methods

Spinning is the most productive method.

In the evening there is often a good sedge rise, especially below the Hakataramea confluence.

Access

The mouth: From the settlement of Glenavy.

The south bank: Branch roads off SH83 such as Wilson's, Goulding and Jardine Roads.

The north bank: From SH82.

Below Lake Waitaki: Where the river is braided, some parts can only be reached by boat.

See the Lower Waitaki access map.

Waitaki hydro lakes

The upper reaches of the Waitaki River have been converted into hydro lakes but most offer good trout fishing. The Waitaki hydro lakes are:

Lake Benmore Troll for the numerous trout and salmon.
Lake Aviemore Holds trout in good numbers.
Lake Tekapo Best in winter when the water is clearer for spinning or fly fishing.
Lake Ohau Good for spinning and trolling.
Lake Waitaki Holds trout averaging 1kg.
Lake Ruataniwha Holds trout. It is a rowing venue, and is also used for jet-boating.
Lake Pukaki A few good fish at the stream mouth.
Lake Middleton Holds only small trout and is used by water-skiers.
Waitaki hydro canals

The Waitaki hydro canals (which link the hydro lakes) are the:
Ohau B-Ohau C canal
Tekapo-Pukaki canal
Ruataniwha-Ohau B canal
Pukaki-Ohau canal

Description

While not the most beautiful environment, the canals are open to fishing all year and a good number of fish can be caught, mostly by spinning.

Fish numbers and size

Most of the fish are rainbow trout of 1-2 kg.

Access

Roads generally follow the canal banks.

See the Upper Waitaki access map.

Recommended lures

Dry flies: Greenwell's Glory, Red-tipped Governor, Peveril O'Peake, Coch-y-Bondu, Humpy, Wulff, Kakahi Queen, Molefly

Nymphs: Hare and Copper, Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail

Streamers: Mrs Simpson, Hope's Dark, Parson's Glory, Yellow Dorothy, Lord's Killer, Rabbit varieties, Hamill's Killer

Spinners: Black, Silver or Blue Slice, Zed Spinner, Tinker, Tiger

Tributaries

Tributaries of the Waitaki River include:
- Hakataramea River
- Maerewhenua River

- Otiake River

Biosecurity
Clean, check, dry Because of the presence of the invasive alga didymo in these waters, anglers must clean their fishing gear including waders and boots, especially when moving between rivers. See Didymo Biosecurity Alert for details.
Regulations (1):
Applicable to Waitaki River and its tributaries
Region Central South Island regulations >>>
Season Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum.
Regulations (2):
Applicable to Waitaki River downstream of SH1
Region Central South Island regulations >>>
Season 1 Jun-31 Aug
(winter season)
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Total sports fish: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum
Regulations (3):
Applicable to

Waitaki hydro canals:
Ohau B-Ohau C canal
Tekapo-Pukaki canal
Ruataniwha-Ohau B canal
Pukaki-Ohau canal

Region Central South Island regulations >>>
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 2
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum
Regulations (4):
Applicable to

Lake Waitaki

Region Central South Island regulations >>>
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum.

Regulations (5):
Applicable to

Lake Waitaki tributaries

Region Central South Island regulations >>>
Season 7 Nov-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum.

Glendeer Fly Fishing

Glendeer Fly Fishing

Glenmac Farmstay

Glenmac Farmstay

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