HomeNelson – MarlboroughNelson Marlborough: Where to fishD’Urville River

D'Urville River


The D'Urville is highly regarded as a wilderness river offering excellent fishing for large brown and rainbow trout in a beautiful pristine mountain environment.

Fish type Brown and some rainbow trout
Situation The D'Urville River flows over a gravel and small stone bed through a scenic bush covered valley to enter the southern end of Lake Rotoroa. It is a truly beautiful river to fish.

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast

The D'Urville is a true backcountry / wilderness river that provides anglers with a real challenge. While the water can be discoloured early in the season, it is mostly clear with a bluish tinge and runs over a wide stone and gravel bed with little overhanging vegetation. Fish can be easily seen especially in sunny conditions.

Once on the river, it is an easy river to walk and cast to visible fish. The fish however are also typical wary backcountry fish that can prove to be a real challenge to catch. Great stealth and finesse is required to ensure success. This is not a river where you can expect to catch a huge number of fish but what you do catch will be mostly very large and in great condition. Catch and release is highly recommended to preserve fish numbers.

Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are moderate to good though they are challenging to catch in the clear river. They are mostly in the 4 -5lb range.

The only access to this river is either by boat or water taxi, or by walking in from the small settlement of Rotoroa at the northern end of the lake. It is a 5-6 hours walk from Rotoroa settlement or 30 minutes by boat. See the access map

Recommended tackle

The clarity of the water and the size and the size of the trout on this river requires the use of tackle that is capable of delicate presentation yet has the power to tame a large fit fish in a powerful current. Rods need to be in the weight 5 to 7 range.

Floating lines in very neutral colours are required to avoid spooking the fish

Long leaders (15 feet is a minimum) with a 3kg fluorocarbon tippet (these are big fish!)

Recommended lures

Small unweighted nymphs such as Pheasant Tail variants and Hares Ear, Hare and Copper work well in the long runs where visible fish can be targeted.

Dry flies:
Cicada patterns are very effective from late summer and beetle patterns work well in early summer. Otherwise use small flies of the Blue Dun, Greenwell's Glory, Royal Wulff or March Brown type flies. In the more boisterous water use large visible palmered flies, especially in the hotter months when the river is low and very clear and the fish move into the well oxygenated water.

Wet flies:
Small wets like Greenwell's Glory, March Brown and emerger caddis patterns such as Invicta work well when fished sub-surface. These flies are especially effective when fishing the evening rise

Spinners: Small bladed spinners (Mepps or Veltic) fished into the faster water or through the deeper pools or into the faster rapids are best for this river. As there are rainbow trout in the D'Urville it is often useful to try flashier colours such as red and gold patterns when spinning.

Applicable to D'Urville River
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Season 1 October - 30 April
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2 (with only one fish exceeding 500mm in length)
Size limit (cm) None

Other fishing waters of the region


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