HomeNelson – MarlboroughNelson Marlborough: Where to fishRiwaka River

Riwaka River


This scenic river offers great fishing for the angler who likes to cast to sighted fish on a small river. Despite the small size of the river it holds a good population of big fish but catch and release is highly recommended.

Fish type Brown trout
Situation 10 minutes from Motueka ; 50 minutes from Nelson
Setting The Riwaka has two branches in its headwaters. The North Branch flows from a deep dark blue spring in the Takaka hills while the larger South Branch travels down from the Arthur Range and then flows across a mixture of bush lined banks and open farmland to the sea just north of Motueka township. It is a scenic river throughout its length.

Access map

Check conditions

View the river flow:
- Riwaka North Branch at Littles
- Riwaka South Branch at Hickmotts

View the rainfall:
- Riwaka North Branch at Littles
- Riwaka South Branch at Moss Bush

Weather forecast

View the MetService weather forecast


This scenic river offers great fishing for the angler who likes to cast to sighted fish. In the last few kilometres before it enters the sea, the river has a number of deep glides and pools that hold good numbers of fish. This section is usually fished blind.

The middle and upper reaches however flow over a stone and gravel bed, often through overhanging trees providing ideal trout habitat. Fish can be spotted in the clear water and will take small dry flies and nymphs.

Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are highest in the lower reaches but there are still good numbers throughout the river. Numbers are fewer in the headwaters but fish in this section tend to be larger (and more wary). Average size is around 3-4lb with some surprisingly big fish also present.
Ease of fishing The lower section of the river can be reached via the Motueka - Takaka highway. Approximately 7 kilometres north of Motueka take the Riwaka Valley road which follows the river for several kilometres. Access is generally easy though permission should be sought from landowners before crossing their land.

The Takaka - Motueka road crosses the Riwaka just north of Motueka and from there the Riwaka Valley road leads of to the left which follows the river for several kilometres.

Access needs to be sought to cross farmland in many places though this is usually readily given. See the access map.

Recommended lures

Small Hare and Copper, Pheasants Tails variants and any small shaggy nymph in small sizes (size 16 preferred) work well. Some weight may be required in the deeper and faster sections.

Dry flies:
Small winged patterns such as Greenwell's Glory, March Brown or Adams are all effective. Green Beetles are effective in early summer and Cicada patterns from late summer are very effective.

Wet flies:
Small wet flies such as March Brown, Greenwell's Glory or sedge emerger patterns work well throughout the days when fished under the ample vegetation and are particularly effective in the evening rise.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners such as Veltic
or Mepps.

Applicable to Riwaka River
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Season 1 Oct-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2 (with only one fish exceeding 500mm in length)
Size limit (cm) No minimum size

Other fishing waters of the region


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