HomeNelson – MarlboroughNelson Marlborough: Where to fishAcheron River

Acheron River


The Acheron River is a major tributary of the Clarence River. It offers challenging fishing for large brown trout in a remote upland environment.

Fish type, number and  size The Acheron River holds brown trout. Fish stocks are low but the fish tend to be very large. Many reach impressive sizes.
Situation The Acheron is a highland river that joins the Clarence River near the small settlement of Hamner Springs. It is a challenging environment, sometimes with strong winds, heavy rain and freezing temperatures, in which to fish for large brown trout. Much of the landscape is open country with little vegetation to break the strong winds that can often blow here.

Access map

Check conditions View MetService weather forecast.
Description The Acheron is a difficult river to fish but one that provides a challenge to experienced anglers who are looking for a back-country fishing experience. It consist of a series of pools punctuated by long glides and riffles which hold a small number of large fish. The river runs over open land and over a rock and gravel bed.
Methods The Acheron is usually very clear allowing anglers to target fish they have sighted. The sometimes very strong winds can make the use of floating lines virtually impossible. Be prepared with some sinking lines or spinners if this is the case.

Via Hanmer

Drive north from Hanmer Springs on the gravel Jacks Pass Road. At the intersection with Tophouse Rd (9km from Hanmer) turn downstream following the Clarence River to its confluence with the Acheron (a further 7km). A hydro road follows the Acheron for many kilometres upstream. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. See the upper Clarence River access map and the the Acheron River access map.

Via Molesworth Station

When the Acheron Road through Molesworth Station is open to the public you can drive following the Acheron River upstream. See the Acheron River access map.

The road is scheduled to open on Dec 28th each year between 7am and 7pm for more than 13 weeks, weather and road conditions permitting, but the road can be closed at short notice if the fire risk is high.  Anyone planning to make the road journey should first check that the road is open by calling DOC South Marlborough Area Office, ph:+64 3 572 9100, or the DOC Nelson Regional Visitor Centre, ph: +64 3 546 9339.

DOC advises that careful and slow driving is needed on the narrow, unsealed road. It is suitable for two-wheel drive cars but not for caravans or vehicles over seven metres long.

Further information and a map of Molesworth Station can be found at the DOC website.

Recommended lures

This river responds best to lightly-weighted nymphs such as size 14 - 16 Hare and Coppers, Pheasant Tails or Green Stone Fly patterns. More weight may be required to get to the larger fish spotted in the deeper pools and runs.

Dry flies:
Coch-y-Bondhu, Molefly, Royal Wulff and Humpy patterns. Flies are best in the 10 - 12 size range.

Wet flies:
Small wets such as Greenwell's Glory, March Brown and emerger sedge fly patterns in sizes 12 - 14 work well when fished sub-surface through the riffles and in the evenings.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners (Mepps or Veltic) fished upstream into the faster water or through the deep pools.

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Acheron River and its tributaries upstream of its confluence with the Severn confluence
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Season Trout: 1 October - 30 April
Salmon: Closed
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2 trout (with only one fish exceeding 500mm in length)
Size limit (cm) No minimum size
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Acheron River downstream of its confluence with the Severn confluence
Region Nelson/Marlborough

Trout: 1 October - 30 April

Salmon: Closed

Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None

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