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Wellington Backcountry Fisheries

The Wellington Fish and Game region manage two backcountry fisheries.  They are situated within the Rangitikei River and  Whakaurekou River catchments.

The Whakaurekou River Backcountry Fishery:

Open Season: 1 Oct – 30 Apr
Methods: Fly, Spin and Bait
Bag Limit: No Limit
Fish Length Limit: No Limit
The Whakaurekou River Backcountry Fishery means the Whakaurekou River from the confluence of the Rangitikei River, including the tributaries within the Ruahine Ranges (namely the Mangatera, Maropea and Waikamaka Rivers).

The Upper Rangitikei River Backountry Fishery:

Open Season: 1 Oct – 30 Apr
Methods: Fly and Spin
Bag Limit: 1
Fish Length Limit: 550mm (Trout greater than 550mm must be returned).
The upper or headwaters of the Rangitikei River and its tributaries (north of the Ohinewaione Stream confluence, 9 km upstream of the Springvale Bridge) has been designated as a backcountry fishery (see Map below).
The headwaters of the Rangitikei River are both nationally and internationally significant as a rainbow trout fishery.


The upper Rangitikei River is quite difficult to access.  Flying in via helicopter is the usual option adopted by most anglers, however, there are tracks where tramping in is possible (although it can take one to two days).  Another difficulty is the large proportion of land that is in private ownership, and is leased to various operators/guides.  Similarly, a large proportion is Defence Force land, administered by the NZ Army.  Wellington Fish and Game is currently investigating ownership and access issues. 

Photos courtesy of Mr J MacKenzie
Previous Backcountry Surveys have shown aesthetic factors (natural environment/scenery, clear water, peace and solitude) rate ahead of fishery factors - reinforcing the notion that anglers are seeking a remote experience whilst fishing over and above other factors. The presence of too many anglers detracts from this experience and thus compromises the quality of the angling experience.
Fish and Game has increasingly been questioned about its role in actively managing appropriate levels of angler use to ensure a high quality angling experience is maintained. Currently the fishery is managed only on biological factors (abundance and size of trout). Restrictions are imposed on the size (trout > 550mm in length must be returned), number of trout allowed to be killed each day (limit = 1), the length of the fishing season (1st October to 30th April), and the fishing methods allowed to be used (spin and fly fishing only).

Stop Didymo from entering the North Island:

Please read the following important information.


Fish and Game will have a strong presence in the upper Rangitikei this season. Non-compliance with the new regulations is an offence under the Conservation Act and subject to a maximum fine of NZ$5,000.00.

Proposed Survey:

It is expected a very short web-based questionnaire will be sent to all of the back country licence holders of which you will be notified of via email, to evaluate their back country experience. The provision of an email address will be confidential and is strictly for Fish and Game survey purposes only. Entering a false e-mail address or not filling out the survey could hurt your chances in the future to obtain a Backcountry Endorsement.
Wellington Fish and Game look forward to the co-operation of all anglers and your assistance to help manage this unique fishery for current and future licence holders.

Further Information (including access): Wellington Fish and Game
P.O. Box 1325,
Palmerston North 4440
Ph 06 359-0409 Fax 06 356-2780