New Zealand
South Island fly fishing

For true adventurers

The South Island of the New Zealand is regarded to be an anglers paradise and the ultimate rite of passage for true fly fishing adventurers.

You will still find a high degree of diversity in the South Island as you would in the North Island, but the terrain and fisheries are significantly different. In turn, this will provide you a completely different experience.


Backcountry – South Island from Gin Clear Media.



The South Island hosts a fantastic world-class Brown Trout fishery most notably in the Nelson, West Coast and Southland areas. Rainbow Trout can be found in good numbers around the Mackenzie Country, Central Otago and parts of Southland.  A good population of Salmon can be targeted near Christchurch (Canterbury). Landlocked Salmon can be found and caught in the Mackenzie Country (Canterbury) and Central Otago.


The season

The season starts 1st October and, depending on what region you are in, the season ends either the end of April or May. The season allows more water bodies to choose from and is a necessary time of year if you wish to fish the backcountry areas. However, no matter what time of year you are in there is still plenty of water to choose from in the South Island.


Best time to go

Great fishing can be found all year round much like the North Island. Early season fishing in October is very good as it has been a while since Trout have seen an angler. World class dry fly fishing starts to get very good in December and lasts right through March. April starts to see Brown Trout in good condition in preparation for spawning if that is your target. The Winter months of May to September can see very good fishing in the man-made canals found in the Mackenzie Country.



The diversity in still-water opportunities make lakes a fascinating option in the South Island. Stunning turquoise lakes, alpine lakes and tahns.  In the Summer, you will find trout (especially Rainbow Trout) to be more concentrated in the deep along drop-offs where the cooler water is. However, dry fly fishing provides great sport in the Summer months (December to March) especially during an evening rise. The Autumn and Winter months will see more trout cruising along the lake edges looking for food.


Backcountry rivers

The backcountry opportunites in the South Island is what brings the vast amount of overseas anglers to New Zealand each year. A lot of  of which, after their first taste, return year after year. It is more than the magnificent backdrops and gin clear waters that creates this appeal. It is the challenge that it provides that draws the serious of all anglers that are prepared to be humbled in a lot of cases.

Backcountry waters are open from 1st October to May where you can find yourself in open tussock plains or in thick native bush. World renowned Brown Trout fisheries await you with pockets of wild rainbow trout that provide great sport.



There would be no significant difference in the type of techniques used in the South Island when compared to the North Island. The popular New Zealand methods of nymphing and dry fly fishing remain still apply with wet fly fishing being productive also. There are notable nuances such as the the use of very long leaders (16ft +) in order to try and get your fly line away from wily trout.

You will also hear the concept of ‘sight fishing’ more often in the South Island. Simply put, this where fish are sighted before they are cast to. Not only does this provide great game, but is also an efficient way of covering ground ensuring you are casting where the fish are in ‘quality not quantity’ environments.


Contact us to start planning your adventure.

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