HomeSouthlandSouthland: Where to fishHollyford River

Hollyford River


The Hollyford River provides top quality wilderness trout fishing in remote, rugged terrain suitable for fit anglers in search of brown trout in a pristine and scenic environment.

Fish type Brown trout, rainbow trout, salmon.

The Hollyford River is off the beaten track, beginning near the Homer Saddle on the Milford Road as a catchment for the Darren and Humboldt mountains. It flows north into Lake McKerrow and takes the lake waters with it into the sea at Martins Bay.

Note: Be prepared for unpredictable weather, including flash flooding. The Hollyford  is in the region of New Zealand with the highest rainfall and flash floods occur regularly throughout the year.


Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecasts

A medium–sized, mountain-fed river, the Hollyford’s upper reaches are boisterous and rough, and challenging to fish. Fish tend to go deep in the fast flowing water. Below Hidden Falls the river is more sedate and, although crystal clear, is still dangerous to attempt crossing. do not be fooled when looking at the water. It may appear shallow and sedate in places but is usually much deeper and more powerful than it seems. It is also very very cold!

Fly fishing and spinning are excellent from Gunns Camp to Lake McKerrow. From the lake to Martins Bay is best for spinning due to the number of snags.

Fish numbers and size Brown trout up to 4.5kg, a few rainbows and salmon (only in January and February).

A long-established walking track begins at the end of the Hollyford Road, 17km from the turnoff from SH94 to Milford Sound. You can also hire a jet boat or fly from Te Anau or Queenstown into Martins Bay. See the access map

Methods Fly fishing, spinning.
Recommended lures

Pheasant Tails, Halfbacks, Hares Ear,  Olive and Copper Tungsten and Brown Nymphs. in sizes 12 - 16. (often some weight is necessary)

Dry flies:
In summer try Blowfly, Black Gnat,  Royal Wullf and Kakahi Queen

Wet flies:
Small flies such as Greenwells Glory, March Brown and Palmered patterns

Spinners: Use small dark coloured bladed spinners such as Mepps or Veltic in green or black.

Applicable to

Hollyford River

Note: Because of the invasive alga didymo, anglers must clean their fishing gear including waders and boots, especially when moving between rivers. See Didymo Biosecurity Alert for details.

Region Southland regulations
Season Trout: All year
Salmon: 1 Jun-31 Mar
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Total: 2
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) No limit

Other fishing waters of the region is the complete guide to New Zealand trout and salmon fishing.

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