Seasons of New Zealand trout

Seasons of trout in New Zealand:

As a general rule, lowland waters are open 1st Oct – 30th April and the high country 1st Nov [1st weekend of Nov in Mackenzie Country] to end of May. There are many local variations (which can also include sections of rivers) so you need to check with your guide or the Fish & Game booklets. Taupo region has its own licence and  regulations.

With local knowledge, there is always somewhere you can go fly fishing in New Zealand, 365 days a year!


October: Fantastic early-season nymphing, the trout are hungry and  eager. The weather can be tempestuous at times but often worth sitting through. Apart from the opening days there are very few anglers around. This is the time for the dedicated big-trout hunter.

November: Transitioning into summer. Nymphing is still the main method but dry fly becomes a preferred option. First mayfly hatches, arrival of brown and Manuka beetles, and the caddis

December: usually a superb month, right up to Christmas when entire NZ goes on 3 week holidays. Dry and dropper, more and more pure dry fly and terrestrials

fly_fishing_guide_Derek_Grzelewski_13January: the country is still on holidays and waters are often disturbed. The arrival of cicadas seems to reset the mood of trout and erase their memory of public holidays

February: prime terrestrial time, willow-grubbing trout but also busiest time with overseas anglers. At times there seems to be not enough fishing guides so book yours early or you’ll miss out

March-April: cooler weather, thinning crowds and the prime mayfly hatches time in Southland.

May: plenty of rivers are still open. Brown trout get ready to spawn and become disinterested in our game but fly fishing for rainbow is at its best. Days are short and often cold though the autumn light is magical and weather usually stable

June: cold, dark and often overcast with inversion layer. Time to tie flies or seek warmer fishing. My preference is for bone fish in Aitutaki or golden dorado in northern Argentina

July-August-September: Tongariro-style fishing in river-mouth dropoffs, Spey fishing on big rivers like the Clutha which remain open all year. And then it’s October again!

fly_fishing_guide_Derek_Grzelewski_16So as you can see, in New Zealand, best times, places and trout events change but our season never really ends. For more about that I invite you to see my SEASON WITHOUT ENDS story in a recent NZ Fish & Game magazine:

New Zealand fly fishing guide_022