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Oreti River Fishing

The Oreti River is highly regarded by trout fishermen for its large population of brown trout and scenic setting.

Oreti River photos

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The WCO application was made by Fish & Game councils in 2005 to protect the outstanding values and fishery and natural state of the river upstream from Mossburn. The order, passed in 2008 recognises the brown trout habitat and angling amenity of the river and its tributaries, its black-billed gull habitat, along with the tikanga value to Maori.

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

Fish type Brown trout
Situation

Oreti River rises in the Thomson Mountains of the Southern Alps, to the east of the Mavora Lakes, and flows 130km through Mossburn, Lumsden and Benmore to enter the sea on Invercargill’s doorstep.

The river travels initially through wind-parched high tussock land, then down into flattish farm land with good roads. Wide gravel beaches, intriguing deep water holes and good picnic spots make it popular with anglers.

Maps

Upper Oreti maps:
Access map
Access map with topography

Lower Oreti maps:
Access map
Access map with topography

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

Check conditions
F&G pamphlets

Fishing surrounds Invercargill access pamphlet
Fishing the Southern Scenic route access pamphlet

Description

The further north you fish the more walking you’ll have to do and the more wily the fish become. Yet there are trophies to be had and all types of fishing are practised on the river.

The most popular areas are in the lower reaches, above the West Plains Bridge where trout slash at whitebait and smelt, and at Waikiwi Stream.

Upper reaches

Description - Source to Mossburn

This section of the river is a mixture of deep pools and long runs with a small population of fish (though those that are there tend to be large). Bankside vegetation is sparse and the land open so expect the trout here to be shy and requiring careful stalking. If they become aware of your presence they dive for cover under the tussock banks but with a cautious approach can be caught and when done os can be extremely energetic fighters.

An exposed region with a wide, unstable gravel bed, the prevailing nor’wester can handicap upstream fly anglers.

Fish numbers and size

Low stocks, 0.5-4.5kg.

Access

SH94 follows the river from Mossburn until Bald Hill, then crosses it again 2km after the Mavora lakes intersection. Fly fishing from this bridge on Mt Nicholas Road is good. From Bald Hill to Mavora is foot access only.

Highway 94 Bridge at Mossburn offers easy river access and ample off-road parking.

Upper Oreti access map

Middle reaches

Description - Mossburn to Centre Bush

Fishing spots in this section tend to be open, sunny and pleasant. There are good, long glides and riffles. The confluence of Irthing River and the fall between Mossburn and Lumsden are popular spots with deeper pools. Fish can be a little difficult to spot.

Fish numbers and size

Up to 2kg.

Access

A number of bridges cross this section, including Dipton, Benmore and Centre Bush. At Dipton Bridge there is a gravel access road, while the other two bridges have walking tracks.

Upper Oreti access map

Lower reaches

Description - Centre Bush to New River estuary

The first 4km from the sea mouth consists of gravel and sand beaches without weed banks, leaving fish exposed n shallow water. The best time is half tide with low water in a westerly wind.

This section gives way to 9km of weed and grass banks so a spinning rod or feathured lure is ideal here. The hot spot is the Waikiwi Stream.

The tidal waters end up at West Plains Bridge. Fish are plentiful and stick close to the banks.

Fish numbers and size

Plentiful, 1-11kg, decreasing as the river heads north.

Access

Again, bridges are a good bet. The Otatara, Ferry West Plains and Riverton Road bridges offer easy river access.

Lower Oreti access map

Methods Fly fishing, spinning, trolling.
Recommended lures

Nymphs: Pheasant Tail and other mayfly patterns, Hare and Copper.

Dry flies: Dad’s Favourite, Blue Dun, Adams (tied parachute style), Caddis, Red Tipped Governor, Coch-y-Bondhu, Dark Red Spinner, Red Jessie.

Wet flies / Streamers: Purple Grouse, Hardy’s Favourite, Invicta, Greenwell’s Glory.

Spinners: Tassie Devil, Black Toby, red Tasmanian Devil, Veltic and Mepps.

Tributaries

Tributaries of the Oreti River include:
- Irthing River, joined by Acton and Cromel rivers

- Windley River
- Murray Creek
- Dipton Stream

- Oswald

- Dilston Stream

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Oreti River
Region Southland regulations
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Oreti River (Upper) upstream of Oreti Road D43 294185 (Walk Only Zone)
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) All fish larger than 400 mm must be returned.
(Trophy Trout Zone)
Regulations (3)
Applicable to Oreti River and tributaries - Oreti Road to Rocky Point
Region Southland regulations
Season Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Total: 2
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) No limit
Regulations (4)
Applicable to Oreti River from Rocky Point to Riverton-Invercargill Highway
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 (5)
Applicable to Oreti River from Riverton-Invercargill Highway 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 (6)
Applicable to Oreti River upstream of the SH94 bridge just north of Lumsden.
Region Southland regulations
Methods Fishing from any boat or flotation device is not permitted

 

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