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Arahura River Trout Fishing

The Arahura River offers fishing in the middle reaches and excellent fishing for large rainbows in a pristine wilderness environment in the headwaters. Note that a permit is required to fish parts of this river as it is in Maori ownership. For information about obtaining permits please see below.


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Fish type Brown trout
Permits As parts of this river are in Maori ownership a permit to fish it is required. Anglers intending to fish the river should phone 03 964 7203 or by emailing Mawhera Incorporated on admin@mawhera.org.nz to obtain the necessary permit.
Situation The lower reaches are approximately 8kms north of Hokitika with side roads leading to sections of the middle reaches.
Setting The Arahura is a moderately large river that has a large watershed. As this part of the country has a very high rainfall this river generally carries a lot of water and the current can be surprisingly powerful as it nears the coast. The lower and middle reaches flow over mostly open land with the upper reaches and headwaters flowing through some steep bush-line valleys.

Access map
Access map with topography

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

Check conditions View MetService weather forecast for Hokitika.
F&G pamphlet West Coast Sports Fisheries access pamphlet  >>>
Special note

Mawhera Incorporation (Ngai Tahu) have legal title to the bed and banks (but not the water) of the Arahura River. They also own the pounamu or greenstone for which the Arahura catchment is renowned and which is of high significance both economically and culturally to Maori. A few years ago there were problems with greenstone fossickers eventually prompting Mawhera to put a complete ban on public access.

Fish & Game subsequently negotiated an agreement whereby anglers would be granted access for which a $5 “administration fee” would apply for the issue of a permit. Anglers intending to fish the river should phone 03 964 7203 or email Mawhera Incorporated on admin@mawhera.org.nz to obtain the necessary permit.

Description The Arahura flows mostly over a stone and gravel bed. The water is generally clear though after prolonged rainfall it can become dirty and tends to stay that way for a few days. The upper reaches are for the energetic angler as the river flows through a beautiful valley. Some areas are difficult to negotiate because of gorges however but there are many kilometres of wonderful fishing opportunities. The middle reaches have a more open land but care should be taken when wading as the river can be surprisingly swift (and the stone bottom slippery). The lower and middle reaches have mostly brown trout but there are a reasonable number of good size rainbow trout above the Milltown Rd bridge.
Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are moderate and mostly in the 2 -4lb range. The upper reaches do have some large fish however and the lower reaches and estuarine areas can be good for large sea-run fish.
Ease of fishing The middle and lower reaches offer fishing for all skills levels with the upper reaches being suited to the more energetic and competent angler
Access Access to the lower reaches is via State Highway 6 with a number of roads such as the Arahura Valley Rd and Humphrey's Gully Rd leading of this and giving access to the middle reaches. The Milltown rd crosses the Arahura further upstream and from here anglers can walk a well defined track into the remote back country headwaters. See the Arahura access map.
Recommended lures

Nymphs: Small nymphs such as Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tails and Caddis imitations all work well in sizes 14 or smaller.

Dry flies: Small flies such as Royal Wulff, Hardies Favourite, Dad's Favourite and March Brown all work well at all times of the day. Fish bushier flies such as Coch-y-Bondhu and Humpy over the faster water.

Wet flies: Small wets like Greenwell's Glory, March Brown and emerger sedge patterns work well when fished sub-surface. These flies are particularly effective when fishing the evening rise. Large flies such as a Parson's Glory or Grey Ghost are excellent when the trout are chasing the whitebait in the lower reaches and estuary. Use large dark patterns such as a Hairy Dog or Scotch Poacher during the night.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners (Mepps or Veltic) fished upstream into the faster water or through the deep pools. Bright spinners such as a Silver Toby or Cobra work well in the lower reaches when the whitebait are running.

Tributaries There a number of small tributaries to the Arahura which can provide good fishing in there lower reaches especially early in the season.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Arahura River upstream of Milltown (Landsburgh) Bridge
Region West Coast >>>
Season Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total sports fish: 2
Size limit (cm) No limit
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Arahura River downstream of Milltown (Landsburgh) Bridge
Region West Coast >>>
Season Trout: All year
Salmon: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit

Total sports fish: 2

Size limit (cm) No limit




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