Fishing and Hunting around Reefton, New Zealand

Reefton is the ultimate easily accessible trout fishing and hunting base. With crystal clear fishing rivers minutes from town and plenty of opportunities for hunting goats, pigs, deer and chamois.

Hunting in the Reefton Area

Reefton is surrounded by public Department of Conservation (DOC) land, most of which you can going hunting in with a gun licence and an a permit.

DOC Hunting Permit – Follow this link to the DOC Website to obtain a hunting permit for public conservation land.

The DOC website has some excellent information on hunting around Reefton.  Follow the links bellow for a summary of the most common areas to go hunting around Reefton:


Trout fishing and fly fishing in the Reefton Area

Go hook a trout in a pristine mountain river!

While the Region offers abundant opportunities for specialist methods such as fly fishing for sighted trout, there are also excellent prospects for novice or intending anglers using bait or spinning gear.

Freshwater sport fishing requires a Fish and Game licence. Licences can be purchased at most sports stores and on the internet at www.fishandgame.org.nz

A selection of trout fishing rivers are listed below with details of access and fishing methods.  All information is supplied by Fish and Game West Coast.

Buller River

The Buller enters the sea at Westport after its long journey from the Nelson Lakes.  Upstream of Lyell the river lies within the Nelson / Marlborough Fish and Game Region. Good numbers of medium sized brown trout are plentiful in the early to mid part of the season and sea-runners inhabit lower reaches before migrating up river later.

Access: True Right: (Westport town side): Easy access is available from the picnic area at the bridge and above to the domain area. Good access is also possible from Reedy’s Road which is the only turnoff at the end of Victoria Rd. Alternatively, turn left off Victoria Road to Te Kuha.
True Left: The Buller River is easily accessible for many kilometres off the adjacent SH 6.

Methods: Bait and spin fishing are the preferred methods in the larger holes and runs, but fly fishing can also be productive especially at evening when trout often feed near the surface on hatching nymphs. Side braids, shallow runs and the edges may be fished with a heavier nymph such as Hares Ear or a large stonefly imitation. The Buller near Westport is popular, with good sea run trout regularly taken during the spring as they enter the river during whitebait season. Spin fishers do best with a bully or smelt imitation, although standard patterns such as the silver slice and toby can also be effective. Large wet (streamer type) flies such as Parson’s Glory, Hopes Silvery, Dorothy and Grey Ghost can be effective in the right conditions, especially at night.

Ohikanui River

Scenic bouldery bush clad Buller tributary accessible from S/H 6. Suitable both spinning and fly fishing in lower reaches, dry or nymph from about 1 hour’s walk upstream. Recommended that at least a full day be set aside to fish this river.

Upper Ahaura and Haupiri Rivers

The Haupiri and Ahaura Rivers both carry populations of medium to large trout, although numbers are typically fewer in the upper reaches. The best fishing in the Ahaura River is from the Nancy River confluence downstream. In the Haupiri River fish density is highest in the first few kilometres downstream of the lake outlet.

Access: Turn off the Greymouth – Reefton highway at Ngahere, travel through Nelson Creek and on to Kopara (sign-posted). The Haupiri River is crossed 1km past Lake Haupiri. Further on this road leads to the upper Ahaura and tributaries such as the Trent and Waiheke.
Travellers on this route also have the opportunity to fish the Haupiri River. To gain access to the upper reaches of both rivers landowners must be contacted in advance. Upper Haupiri River, Gloria Vale Christian Community Ph 03 738 0224.
Upper Ahaura, Mr Bill Perry Ph 03 738 0221 (Access to the Upper Ahaura is rough and best suited to the fit angler).

Methods: These waters are influenced by heavy floods and fish numbers vary, however the mid – Haupiri normally supports good trout numbers and the upper Ahaura consistently produces good sized fish.

Mawheraiti River (Little Grey River)

This is a Grey tributary joining at Ikamatua (between Greymouth and Reefton). The Mawheraiti is a smallish tea coloured stream usually holding good numbers of medium sized trout.

Access: Available from the Atarau road Bridge or where SH 7 crosses the Mawheraiti River. Where the river does not run alongside the road, permission must be obtained from adjacent landowners.

Methods: Nymph and dry fly both work well here. Spinning is effective during freshes, particularly in lower reaches.

Rough River

The Rough also enters the Grey River near Ikamatua and provides challenging fishing for predominantly large brown trout.

Access: The lower reaches are accessed from the Atarau Road Bridge and the upper reaches via Mirfins Road on the true left. Access to the river may also be gained via the old sawmill.

Methods: Water is usually very clear and best suited to dry fly and nymph techniques for fish that become more wary as the season progresses.

Inangahua River

The Inangahua River flows through forest and farmland to the Buller River near the Inangahua settlement. It is a medium to large river, generally clear with a slight brown tinge during freshes. The Inangahua contains a very good population of trout, mainly small to medium sized but many larger fish in late season.

Access: Angling is most popular in the middle reaches, both above and below Reefton. Above Reefton, SH7 follows close to the true right of the river and there are many locations where easy access off the side of the road is available. Although there are medium sized fish in the upper section they are usually outnumbered by smaller trout. Access downstream of Reefton is more difficult, although landowners are helpful if asked and ‘Anglers Access’ signs are located in places where access has been negotiated. Brazils, O’Grady, Golf links and the Perseverance Road provide easy access roads directly to the River. The Landing Bridge is another and following the Larry or Waitahu rivers down to the confluence also provides quick access.

Methods: All methods work well, with spinning the most popular when the river is high. The mid-section around the Stony confluence is most suited to a heavy nymph fished near the edges. A large dry fly in any popular pattern will often produce a fish from the deeper runs.

Waitahu River

This is the largest of the Inangahua River tributaries approximately 4.5km north of Reefton. The Waitahu provides opportunities for spotting and stalking trout in a particularly scenic setting.

Access: The main access is along Gannons Road off S/H 69. A 4WD is advisable beyond the bridge at the end of the tar seal and the track maintains good contact with the true right bank enabling easy access upstream for 9-10 kms. For the more active a walk further up to the Montgomerie is recommended. The Waitahu holds good sized fish throughout, while the Montgomerie is a mid-sized tributary offering excellent headwater angling prospects.

Methods: Some spin fishing is possible in the larger pools following freshes but high water clarity during summer means it is more suited to the fly fisher. Heavy nymph in deeper runs most effective, but don’t overlook the fish in seemingly impossibly deep holes. They can sometimes be tempted to rise.

Larrys (Awarau) River

Another tributary of the Inangahua located approximately 15km north of Reefton along SH69. The Awarua supports good numbers of medium to large trout and some of ‘trophy’ size.

Access: Turn right off SH69 onto a forestry road. If you prefer to fish upstream drive to picnic area at the road end. Continue by foot along a track that eventually leads back to the river. For downstream fishers access is available directly in front of the picnic area or from the SH69 Bridge.

Methods: As for the Waitahu River, fishing is good all season but as the season progresses so does the required skill level.

Maruia River

The Maruia River offers lots of opportunities. Legal access along most of the river and its fishable tributaries is good, although if in doubt ask permission first. Rainbow trout can also be found in Lake Daniell, the Alfred River and Pell Stream.


Trout Fishing techniques

Many rivers support trout populations that fluctuate depending on the time of year. The usual pattern is for the lower reaches of the major rivers to carry more fish in spring and early summer, after which trout move upstream to occupy mid-headwater habitats. Smaller streams generally fish best in early season before water temperatures increase and trout become active for shorter periods. Evening fishing is usually best in mid to late summer when insect hatches peak.

Spinning: Spin anglers are advised to use light line (3kg max.) and small (7g) lures where circumstances permit, especially in clear water and during low flows. Popular colours are green and gold, black and gold, black, and white or silver near river mouths.

Bait fishing: Bait fishing is permitted in all waters. Smelt and large bullies are often very effective in tidal areas.

Fly fishing: A range of nymph sizes and weights is recommended depending on the water. Heavy hare and copper, stonefly or similar bead head patterns are useful for deeper headwater pools and riffles, while size 12-16 is necessary for spring fed streams and side braids where a more delicate presentation is required. Good streamer patterns for estuary fishing include Parsons Glory, Grey Ghost and Yellow Dorothy. After dark try Red Shadow, Black Hairy Dog or Dark Hopes Silvery. Commonly used dry flies include Deer Hair, Mole Fly or a similar good floater for big water, Adams, Khaki Queen, coachman or Blue Dun for smaller water. As always fly size and presentation are the keys to success.

Etiquette for Backcountry Anglers

• Respect fellow anglers and remember they arrived at the river with the same expectations as you.
• Never cut in front of other anglers regardless of how desperate you are to get to the water.
• If fishing solo, invite an angler you meet to fish with you. You may both learn something.
• If a helicopter is heard make yourself visible so that guided anglers can be taken to an alternative location.
• Remember, angling is a relaxing sport so let’s keep it that way.
• When releasing fish, do so with great care and try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible.