HomeWest CoastWest Coast: Where to fishHokitika River

Hokitika River


The Hokitika River provides good back-country fishing for large rainbow trout in the upper reaches and has a good population of brown trout in the middle reaches.

Fish type Brown and rainbow trout plus some salmon in the lower reaches
Situation The river mouth is at the township of Hokitika and the river runs for many kilometres inland from there. Much of it is accessible by vehicle.
Setting The Hokitika rises in the Southern Alps and flows north west to enter the Tasman Sea at Hokitika township. Much of the lower reaches are wide and the unstable shingle bed is not an ideal trout environment. The middle reaches provide a wide variety of fishing waters that will suit all anglers and methods. Further inland the river provides very good habitat for trout and in the upper reaches there is some excellent back-country fishing. This is a river of many moods and has the added bonus of the excellent scenery. It is very subject to flooding as this area has a very high annual rainfall and the river has a large watershed

Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast

View the rainfall and river level

Description The lower reaches tend to be suitable for spin fishing and does hold a number of brown and sea run trout. Salmon can also be present in this section between Jan to April. This wide slower moving section through the township of Hokitika up to the junction with the Kokatahi River is not highly recommended for the angler however.

In the middle reaches the river flows over a shingle and stone bed through fairly open countryside and is suited to both spin and fly fishing. The river is braided through much of this area and flows through a variety of channels. These can change very quickly especially after a storm and so anglers need tto be constantly evaluating their fishing options and methods to suit. The upper reaches are separated from the middle reaches by the inaccessible Hokitika Gorge. Above the Gorge is some wonderful fishing for mostly large rainbow trout in a pristine wilderness environment.

Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are low in the lower reaches but there are moderate numbers in the more fishable upper reaches where some of the fish grow quite large. Most are in the 2-4lb range however. Some salmon enter the river between Jan and April and larger sea run fish trout can be caught between Sept and Dec in the lower reaches as they enter the river chasing whitebait.
Ease of fishing A river that caters for all levels of fishing skills though the upper reaches are really only for the more experienced angler.

The Kaniere - Kowhitirangi Rd runs close to much of the lower reaches with a number of side roads leading of giving access to the middle section. These include Wall Rd, Stopbank Rd and Whitcombe Rd. Whitcombe Valley road takes the anglers wishing to fish the upper reaches to the beginning of the track inland at the start of the Gorge. See the Hokitika River access map.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: In the upper reaches small flies are recommended such as a gold bead Hare and Copper or Pheasants Tail (sizes 14 - 16). In the middle reaches anglers should use slightly larger nymphs (12- 14) though again smaller patterns may be more appropriate during the warmer months when the river is lower and clearer. Again any Pheasant Tail variant or Hares Ear or Stone Fly patterns work well. Use weighted flies in the deeper or faster water. The lower reaches are less suited to nymphing but should anglers still wish to pursue this method use large dark nymphs with some weight.

Dry flies: Small well dressed dry flies are the order for the upper reaches in patterns such as Royal Wulff, Kakahi Queen or Blue Dun. Sizes need to be small. In the middle reaches dry flies are very effective when fishing to the trout that can be seen cruising the shallows but keep them small as the trout are easily spooked. Any Adams, Greenwell's Glory or Mole Fly can be effective and during the early summer a Green Beetle or a Cicada pattern from late summer work well during the day when the trout are feeding on these larger morsels.

Wet flies: Small wets work very well during the evening when the fish are rising. There can be a good evening rise in the middle reaches  during the summer months. Larger patterns such as a Muddler Minnow or Mrs Simpson also work well when fished deep in the lower reaches and bright patterns such as Grey Ghost or Jack Spratt are good when the whitebait are running. At night use very dark patterns such as a Hairy Dog or Black Fuzzy-Wuzzy.

Spinners: Spinners work well throughout the river and are the only effective method in the lower reaches. Black and Silver Toby patterns, Rapalas and Tasmanian Devils are best in the lower reaches with bladed spinners such as a Mepps or Veltic working best in the middle and upper reaches.

Tributaries The Hokitika has a number of important tributaries that provide a range of different fishing experiences. These are the Kaniere, the Kokatahi and its tributaries the Styx and the Toaroha, and the Whitcombe.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Hokitika River upstream of the swing bridge at Lower Gorge
Region West Coast

All year for trout;

1 Oct to 30 April for salmon

Methods Artifical fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total sportsfish: 2
Size limit (cm) No limit
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Hokitika River downstream of the swing bridge at Lower Gorge
Region West Coast

Trout: All year

Salmon: 1 Oct-30 Apr

Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total sportsfish: 2
Size limit (cm) No limit

Other fishing waters of the region


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