HomeCentral South IslandCSI: Where to FishWaitaki Lake and River

Waitaki Lake and River

 

The Waitaki River and catchment is widely recognised for its magnificent salmon and trout fisheries. The river and its extensive hydro lakes and canals provide quality sports-fish which attract local and visiting anglers alike.

Fish type Quinnat salmon, brown and rainbow trout
Situation

The Waitaki River rises in the Southern Alps, drains three large high-country lakes and flows on an easterly course to enter the sea at Glenavy, north of Oamaru.

Maps

Upper Waitaki River access map

Lower Waitaki River access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast.

View the River flow.

Waitaki lakes pamphlet The Waitaki Lakes Recreational Information pamphlet, available at the Environment Canterbury website, includes sections on the lakes, safe boat navigation, camping, hydro power station statistics, wildlife and plants, local walks, and important contact information.
The Lower Waitaki

The Waitaki is a large braided river, with a flow second only to that of the Clutha River. Because it is used to generate hydro electric power, anglers need to beware
of sudden fluctuations in the the water level. The clarity of the water is usually good in summer.

The Waitaki flows over an unstable shingle bed. Willow trees line the banks in many parts.

Fish numbers and size

Good-sized brown and rainbow trout. Good sea-run salmon at the mouth.

Methods

Spinning is the most productive method. In the evening there is often a good caddis rise, especially below the Hakataramea confluence.

Access

The mouth: From the settlement of Glenavy.

The south bank: Branch roads off SH83 such as Wilson's, Goulding and Jardine Roads.

The north bank: From SH82.

Below Lake Waitaki: Where the river is braided, some parts can only be reached by boat.

See the Lower Waitaki access map.

Waitaki hydro lakes The upper reaches of the Waitaki River have been converted into hydro lakes but most offer good trout fishing. The Waitaki hydro lakes are:

Lake Benmore Troll for the numerous trout
and salmon.
Lake Aviemore Holds trout in good numbers.
Lake Tekapo Best in winter when the water is clearer
for spinning or fly fishing.
Lake Ohau Good for spinning and trolling.
Lake Waitaki Holds trout averaging 1kg.
Lake Ruataniwha Holds trout. It is a rowing venue, and is
also used for jet-boating.
Lake Pukaki A few good fish at the stream mouth.
Lake Middleton Holds only small trout and is used by water-skiers.
Hydro canals

The McKenzie (Waitaki) hydro canals which link the hydro lakes are the:

  • Tekapo–Pukaki canal
  • Pukaki–Ohau hydro canal
  • Ohau Canal from State Highway 8 to Ohau C power station

See McKenzie hydro canals for details, inclduign access and regulations.

Recommended lures

Dry flies: Greenwell's Glory, Coch-y-Bondu, Humpy, Kakahi Queen, Molefly

Nymphs: Hare and Copper, Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail

Streamers: Mrs Simpson, Lord's Killer, Rabbit varieties, Hamill's Killer

Spinners: Black, Silver or Blue Slice, Zed Spinner.

Tributaries

Tributaries of the Waitaki River include:
- Hakataramea River
- Maerewhenua River

- Otiake River

Biosecurity
Clean, check, dry Because of the presence of the invasive alga didymo in these waters, anglers must clean their fishing gear including waders and boots, especially when moving between
rivers. 
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Waitaki River and its tributaries
Region Central South Island regulations
Season Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum.
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Waitaki River downstream of SH1
Region Central South Island regulations
Season 1 Jun-31 Aug
(winter season)
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Total sports fish: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum
Regulations (3)
Applicable to

Lake Waitaki

Region Central South Island regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum.
Regulations (4)
Applicable to

Lake Waitaki tributaries

Region Central South Island regulations
Season 1 Nov-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum.

Other fishing waters of the region