HomeNelson – MarlboroughNelson Marlborough: Where to fishMaruia River

Maruia River

The Maruia is regarded as a  premier water that offers anglers many kilometres of wonderful fishing in a pristine environment for good stocks of both brown and rainbow trout.

Fish type

Brown and rainbow trout.

The Maruia River has 186 brown trout per kilometre or nearly 300 per mile (as surveyed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries).

Situation 20 minutes from Murchison: 30 minutes from Westport
Setting The Maruia joins the Buller 12kms south of Murchison and offers over 70kms  of easily accessible fishing in a pristine mountain environment. This is delightful water to fish and despite areas of vegetation that need to be negotiated to get to the river, once on the river most is easily waded and the angler is offered many kilometres of water to explore.

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast

The Maruia is an excellent water to fish offering all forms of angling experience from spin fishing through to delicate dry-fly fishing for large wary browns. The river runs over a gravel bed though there are areas where it runs between rock outcrops that can really test anglers who have spotted large fish in the depths.

The lower reaches mostly flow through willow lined banks while above the Mairuia Falls, the river flows through beech and manuka trees. The Maruia Falls (formed during the 1929 Murchison earthquake) also form the boundary with both rainbow and brown trout above the falls while only brown trout are found below them.

Above the confluence with the Woolley River there is a braided section that holds fewer fish though those that are there tend to be quite large.

Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are high, especially in the middle and lower reaches and lower in the braided upper reaches. Fish are in the 3-4lb range but do grow much larger. Fish of trophy sizes can be expected to be seen (though are hard to catch).
Ease of fishing After pushing through the dense bank-side vegetation, the river is generally easy to fish being wadeable in most parts. There are areas however where the steep banks that rise out of deep pools make getting to the river impossible. The upper reaches which flow over open tussock country are much easier to fish.

Access is via Highway 65 which runs from joining SH6 12 kms south of Murchison and traveling to the small settlement of Maruia Springs near the rivers headwaters. See the access map.

Recommended lures

Small nymphs such as Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tails and Caddis imitations all work well in sizes 14 or smaller.

Dry flies:
Small flies such as Hardies Favourite, Dad's Favourite and March Brown all work well at all times of the day. Fish bushier flies over the faster water. Very small flies are best in the upper braided reaches.

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


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

Tributaries The major tributaries, the Woolley, the Warwick and the Rappahanock streams hold fish. The Woolley is a delightful small stream that rises in the Victoria Range and runs through bush covered valleys to join the Maruia River near the small settlement of Maruia. The lower reaches are easily fished as they cross farmland while the upper reaches are in a delightful bush setting. This small tributary tends to remain clean even after heavy rain and other rivers in the area have discoloured.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Maruia River downstream of Maruia Falls
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Maruia River upstream of Maruia Falls
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Season 1 October - 30 April
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None

Other fishing waters of the region


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