Fish & Game - Auckland and Waikato anglers fish locally with great opportunities a short drive away

  • 18/12/2023

Fish & Game - Auckland and Waikato anglers fish locally with great opportunities a short drive away

New data from Fish & Game New Zealand shows anglers in Auckland and Waikato tend to fish locally with great locations to angle in their regional backyards.  

The 2021-2022 National Angler Survey conducted by Niwa for Fish & Game has just been released. The survey, conducted every seven years, records angling activity for all lake, river and canal fisheries managed by Fish & Game and collects data on the number of angling days (one angler fishing on one day, irrespective of the number of hours spent fishing). Some 15,000 people were surveyed from December 2021 to October 2022. 

Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Manager Ben Wilson encouraged locals to give fishing a go in their nearest river or stream. 

“For many people in our area a day’s fishing is a short drive away. A few hours on the water is like taking a mini holiday, without the hassle of travelling. 

“The survey found 77% of angling effort on waterbodies in Auckland/Waikato was attributed to Auckland/Waikato anglers; 23% to anglers from other regions. 

“The most popular waterbody in Auckland/Waikato was Lake Arapuni, followed by the Whakapapa River. More than half of the top 20 most popular waterbodies were within the Waikato River catchment.” 

About 92,000 angling licences were sold in New Zealand for the survey period – down by around 10 per cent from the last survey.  Auckland anglers were still in Covid 19 lockdown during the beginning of the survey and had missed a large portion of the previous season. Overseas anglers were largely absent, so it is no surprise that almost 97 per cent of angler days were attributed to New Zealand resident full season licence holders. Total angler usage was 991,700 angler days – 38 per cent of angler days were for lakes; and 62 per cent were for rivers and hydro canals.  

Other key findings were:  

  • The top three lakes to fish managed by Fish & Game were Rotoiti in the Bay of Plenty, Benmore in Canterbury, and Wakatipu in Otago. Rotoiti and Benmore each had more than 30,000 angler days, and Wakatipu got more than 26,000.     
  • The top three rivers were the Clutha in Otago, with 30,985, followed by the Waimakariri (30,525) and the Rakaia (19,187), both in North Canterbury.     
  • The Central South Island hydro canals were very popular: Ohau C (32,655), Ohau B (29,257), and then Pukaki Ohau A (26,211).     

“This survey highlights the real opportunities for more New Zealanders to get out in nature and rewild themselves by giving fishing a go,” says Fish & Game Chief Executive Corina Jordan.  

“Clearly, South Islanders get it, with over three quarters of angling effort taking place on the ‘mainland’.  

“But North Islanders also have some exceptional trout fisheries – from the Waikato spring creeks, Rotorua lakes, and Central North Island high country wilderness rivers – there's plenty of choice.  

“And almost all the major centres south of Auckland have quality trout fisheries right on their doorstep. One of the country’s great fisheries – the Hutt River – has trophy-sized trout [over 10lbs] and flows right through two major urban areas.” 

There are proven benefits to mental health and wellbeing from spending time in nature. Overseas, fishing is a commonly prescribed activity to help people, such as war veterans, dealing with mental and emotional trauma.  

“We know many Kiwis are suffering after some tough years, and angling can help. It’s also important that people take time to actively look after their wellbeing as a preventative measure.  

“People wanting to know more should check out our ReWild site for inspiration and advice. Summer is a great time to give fishing a go.” 

Read the full survey here.


Adam Daniel Fisheries Manager 022-030-9033

Maggie Tait Principal Communications Advisor 027 346 9570

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