| | | | | |

Find local...

View maps...

See also...

Mataura River Fishing

The Mataura River is the trout fishing purists dream. It is reputed to be the ultimate in dry fly angling for brown trout, with nearly 150km of easily accessed waters. This river would take months if not years to fully explore and discover its many facets.

Mataura River photos

View photos View maps

The Mataura, along with the three other main Southland rivers, breached during the Southland floods of January, 1984. Commercial and residential parts of Mataura were hit hard, including the pulp and paper plant. The Mataura, popular with anglers, is internationally-renowned for its brown trout fishery. The WCO was passed in 1997 in recognition of "outstanding fisheries and angling amenity features".

To read the full legislation document for the WCO applied to this waterway click here

Fish type Brown trout and the occasional salmon.
Situation The Mataura is the second largest river in the region. It begins south of Lake Wakatipu, travels south-east to Gore, then turns south again before emptying into Toestoes Bay at Fortrose, near Invercargill.

Upper Mataura maps:
Access map
Access map with topography

Lower Mataura maps:
Access map
Access map with topography

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

Check conditions
F&G pamphlet Mataura River Anglers Access

31 Jan 2010: This New York Times travel article featured the Mataura River: A Long Road to World Class Fly Fishing in New Zealand


Regarded by many as New Zealand's top dry fly water, the Mataura is a premier fishery offering over 150kms of fishable water. The prolific hatches of mayfly distinguish this river as trout will rise freely at all times of the day for this delicacy. It also has some great evening rises during the evenings in the warmer months.

The river generally runs clean and clear and mostly flows over open land and through stands of willows that line the banks.

This river presents a number of very different faces to the angler and is hard to describe as a single fishery. What is true however is that it is one of the best dry fly waters along almost its entire  length.

Upper reaches

Description: Fairlight to Cattle Flat

Although not as heavily fished as the lower reaches, the conditions here are excellent providing anglers with small stream fishing for a high population of freely rising fish. The river in this section usually runs clear between open grassy banks and stands of willows. Consequently there is good shelter for the fish which will come out to feed during the day knowing that they are a short dash to the safety of cover if disturbed. .

The river flows over a shingle and sand bed and is a series of gentle rapids puntuated by pools and long gliding runs. Often there is a deep section along one bank that will invariably hold fish when they are not out in the runs feeding. Each section must be approached very carefully as the fish will lie and feed in some very shallow water and wil;l dart for cover if disturbed.

You can easily cross the river at the tail of most pools, although watch for slippery stones. While fishing during the day will challenge the best of anglers, there is often an excellent rise in the evenings where the pools become alive with feeding fish. During these evening rises the fish can be less spooky but will often still feed selectively.

Fish numbers and size



The section between Parawa and above Garston meanders across farmland close to SH 6.

Above Garston from SH6, you can gain across private farmland. Between Garston and Athol access to the willow-lined river is easy to access across farmland.


There is superb cottage style accommodation at Nokomai Station and Castle Hill Lodge offers superb accommodation for anglers. For for a range of budget accommodation options including camping, Hectors in nearby Kingston is an excellent choice.

See the Upper Mataura access map

Middle reaches

Description - Cattle Flat to Mataura

This stretch of slow-flowing river is the most popular with anglers as it offers many kilometres of open fishing. During the season these fish rise freely to take mayflies and so this can be described as ideal dry fly water.

The river is larger in this section though still has the same character as the upper reaches. It flows between grassy banks and through stands of willow tress. Often the river will have cut a deep trench along one bank where fish can shelter when not feeding. If no fish are seen it is often productive to try a deeply sunk nymph threough these sections or even swing a wee-wet across and down.

The river flows over a shingle and stone bed in a series of riffles and pools. There are a number of long runs where fish can be found feeding actively at any time of the day in the foam line or even in the shallow water. When distrubed however they will make for the nearest cover.

The river becomes much more substantial close to Gore and flows over a stoney bottom and between some rocky outcrops. During warm evenings there can be excellent rises as pools that appeared to be devoid of fish a few hours earlier suddenly come to life.

The stretch from Wyndham to Gore Road Bridge is especially favoured and easy enough to wade in.

The section upstream from Mataura is one of the few sections on the river that access is difficult due to the river flowing through a steep sided gorge. Those who like a challenge and are resonably agile will be able to fish this area and are unlikely to see any other anglers.

Below Waikawa, the river enlarges with the extra flow of water and so wading becomes very difficult.

Fish numbers and size

There are high numbers of fish present in this section that average around 1.2 kgs though there are also many larger fish present.


A number of roads give good river access especially where they cross the river. These include the Ardlussa, Waipounamu, Pyramid and Otamita bridges; Monaghan’s Beach; and Ardlussa-Cattle Flat road.

See the Upper Mataura access map


Five Rivers Retreat gives superb full accommodation and access to some great fishing and Nokomai Station has high quality cottages and fishing on 20kms of the Matuara.

Lower reaches

Description - Mataura to the mouth

The river gets deeper here and the water quality is not as good, particularly below Mataura Island.

As with the higher reaches, fish still rise freely in this section and so it still provides excellent fly water for both the dry fly and nymph enthusiast. This section with its slower moving and larger volumn of water is also good for spin fishing. There are sections where it is difficult to access, especially just upsstream from the town of Mataura as the river flows between high rugged banks.

As the river gets close to the sea it becomes tidal and so really only suited to the spin and bait anglers.

Fish numbers and size

There are very large numbers of fish in this section with some up to 4.5kg.


The road follows the river from Mataura to Gore so access is easy, particularly at Beattie’s Beach. There’s also good access at Gorge Road Bridge. On the west bank at Gorge Road township, Hamill’s Road takes you to a great spot.

Lower Mataura River access map


Very good homestay accommodation is available with guide

David Murray-Orr

Methods Fly fishing, nymphing, spinning.
Recommended tackle Lighter range threadline using a small bubble and a nymph cast upstream into ripples; live bait.
Recommended lures

In general, small flies work better on the Mataura.

Nymphs: Pheasant Tail, Willow Grubs, Mataura Darter and emerger patterns that imitate mayflies.

Dry flies: Dad’s Favourite, Blue Dun, Adams(tied parachute-style) Twilight Beauty, Wickham's Fancy , Caddis, Coch-y-Bondhu, Dark Red Spinner

Wet flies / Streamers - Early season: Gosling. invicta and spider patterns such as a March Brown Mid-late season: Greenwell’s Glory (wet), Alexandra, Claret and Mallard and spider patterns

Spinners: Tobys, Mepps , Rapalas, small Veltic

Matching the Hatch See the feature article Matching the Hatch: A Guide to 'Cracking' the Mystery of the Mataura River by fly fishing guide Chris Dore.

Tributaries of the Mataura River include:
- Waikaia River
- Waikaka River
- Mimihau River
- Mokoreta River

- Otamita Stream (view photos)

- Waimea Stream

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Mataura River and tributaries upstream of Humes' Road Bridge, Garston (Trophy Trout Zone - all fish larger then 400mm must be returned)
Region Southland regulations
Season Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Total: 1
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) 400mm maximum
(Trophy Trout Zone)
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Mataura River - Garston Bridge to Gore Road Bridge
Region Southland regulations
Season Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total: 4
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) No limit
Regulations (3)
Applicable to Mataura River - Gore Bridge to the Gorge Road Bridge
Region Southland regulations
Season Trout: 1 Oct-31 May excluding 3 and 4 May 2008.
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total: 4
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) No limit
Regulations (4)
Applicable to Mataura River - Gorge Bridge to the sea
Region Southland regulations
Season Trout: All year
Salmon: 1 Jun-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total: 4
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) No limit
Regulations (5)
Applicable to Mataura River upstream from the Mataura Island bridge
Region Southland regulations
Methods Fishing from any boat or flotation device is not permitted


Nokomai Valley: cottages, guiides and heli-fishing

Nokomai Valley

Oreti River House

Michael Vetters

Michael Vetters, Fly Fish the South

David Muray_Orr

Southland Flies & Guides

Wentworth Heights

Wentworth Heights B&B

Fly Fish Mataura

Simon Wilkinson Guiding

SW Guiding

Kingston Motels & Holiday Park

Hector's Motels & Holiday Park

Awatere Cottage

Awatere Cottage

Mossburn Country Holiday Park

Mossburn Country Holiday Park

Steve Carey, Mt Cook Fly Fishing

Mt Cook Fly Fishing

Brwon Trout Seven

Lumsden Cottage

Mossburn Railway Hotel

Mossburn Railway Hotel

The Lumsden Hotel

The Lumsden Hotel

Home | Site map | Glossary | Links | Legal notices | Feedback | Advertise | About us | Contact us Top of page