April 2018
This guidance document sets out recommended practice for the design of instream infrastructure to provide for fish passage and to set the foundation for the improvement of fish passage management in New Zealand.


Many of New Zealand’s most widespread fish species (eg whitebait and eels) undertake significant migrations as part of their life-cycle. The purpose of these migrations is to access the range of habitats necessary to support different life-stages, eg reproduction and rearing, and ecological functions, for example feeding or finding refuge.

Instream infrastructure, such as culverts, weirs and dams, can delay or prevent fish movements when adequate provision for fish passage is not provided in their design, installation and maintenance. The consequence is a reduction in the distribution and abundance of some of our most iconic and valued freshwater species.

The guidelines have been developed to assist infrastructure designers and managers, waterway managers, environmental officers, iwi and local communities with understanding and promoting better management of fish passage requirements in New Zealand. The guidelines set out best practice approaches and minimum design standards for providing fish passage at instream structures based on current knowledge.

Publication information

Prepared by Paul Franklin, Eleanor Gee, Cindy Baker (all NIWA), and Sjaan Bowie (DOC)

Published by: 

National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA)
PO Box 11115
Hamilton 3251


Whare Kaupapa Atawhai / Conservation House Head Office
Phone:   +64 4 471 0726
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   18 Manners Street
Wellington 6011
Postal Address:   PO Box 10420
Wellington 6140
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