Fishing New Zealand is up there on the bucket list of many anglers from around the world, however some struggle with the cost of doing so and go for the full ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) or ‘trout bum’ experience. This is not a problem in itself as long as it is done with respect and consideration. Therefore if your dream is to fish and travel New Zealand on a budget, it is important to consider the following points to ensure you have a smooth trip and positive trip here.
1. Understand our methods
Unsurprisingly, fishing in New Zealand can be very different from other fishing around the world and I find almost all visiting anglers underestimate this. We have a wide variety of water types and sizes, with the majority in the South Island having moderately clear to gin clear water. Much of your success will rely on your execution rather than luck, unlike most fisheries where chuck & chance is common, your ability to read water and spot fish will go a long way to giving yourself a chance. Another thing that is sorely underestimated is the importance being a competent caster, especially at the worst of times when you need to rollout 12-15ft leaders into strong winds and land in a spot the size of a small plate. There are obviously many more techniques unique to NZ that are worth understanding before you hit the water, prior research can help but the only real way to learn is spending time on the water.
2. Hire a guide
Now I’m not just saying this because I’m a guide, I am mentioning it because I commonly see visiting anglers underestimate the need to learn how to approach fish in NZ, they struggle their way along and at the last minute scramble to get a guide as a last resort but most are usually booked. Even if you are on a tight budget, hiring a guide for even just one day can mean the difference between you having a successful DIY fishing trip or a mediocre one. Guides in NZ aren’t like those I’ve experienced in other places around the world, if you find the right one, you will learn so much that you will be wishing you had more time with them. At the end of the day, why would you spend $1000’s on airfares to get to NZ and then just chuck and chance your fishing success?
3. Base yourself in a town, not on the river
One of the key issues with international DIY anglers in NZ is their tendency to base the majority of the trip on the water itself, sleeping, eating and shitting there. This is highly contentious with locals and should be done with care a consideration for the fishery. Multiple days spent fishing one river or piece of water can be detrimental, especially for your local kiwi who only gets his weekends to fish and turn up to find out it has been hammered all week. By basing yourself in a local town, you not only have comfortable accomodation, you have more options of water to fish in multiple direction , giving you a wider variety of water and experiences. The key to all this however is your contribution to the local economy, which can be very important in our smaller regions with some towns relying heavily on fishing tourism. This option doesn’t need to be expensive either, many campgrounds offer tent sites or cabins from only $10-$20pp with all the facilities and usually a local supermarket will provide affordable food options.
4. Understand angler etiquette
Nothing disgruntles a local angler more than someone that doesn’t understand river etiquette or common courtesy on a river. Considering the majority of our fishing here is an upstream method, never, ever start fishing in front of another angler. This ‘Jumping’ is intolerable, even if you are not seen. Depending on the waterway, where no accesses are marked it is best to give an angler at least 5-6km of river before you start fishing (this is up for interpretation by each angler), or better yet, talk to them if you can and agree who will be going where. As mentioned above it is also important to understand that the river is for everyone, each getting a fair amount of time to fish it and therefore it is important that you keep your camping and/or stays in backcountry huts to a reasonable length of time, this time varies on the area and/or waterway and can be determined by chatting with a local or just some common sense. As a well known local guide says “Don’t be a dick”
5. Be careful what you share with the world
We all love to share our experiences and show off our catch, I am known for this as much as anyone else, however the key to this is to be discreet. With the global reach of social media it can be great to show off your kiwi experience and show others whats possible if they travel to NZ, which we love you to do. However just keep in mind that the essence of fly fishing is exploration, finding and learning new places yourself, like we all had to do it before the internet. Keep your video and photo content discreet, try not to show obvious hints of locations, road signs and of course don’t mention the name of the river! Remember that rumours travel and what you tell one person can easily end up being repeated tenfold, resulting in the destruction of a resource. Your not trying to prevent others from having a great time, it just means that like anyone else, they need to put in the effort to find the special places.
So in conclusion, the best thing you can do to have a great trip to NZ is be respectful;
- Respect the land and water, leave only footsteps
- Respect the people, consider others at all times especially when driving
- Respect the culture, remember your fishing etiquette
- Respect the fish, carefully catch & release
So if your planning to DIY fish NZ, please be conscious and considerate of the above points and hopefully you will have a great trip. If you want to have a chat about anything, get in touch below.