Whitebait, probably Galaxias maculatus, from Te Oka Stream
Image: Angus McIntosh, University of Canterbury | ©


The Department of Conservation (DOC) is highlighting some key things to ensure a safe and happy Kāpiti Coast whitebait season, including to protect our local taonga.

Date:  23 August 2023

The season runs from 1 September to 30 October. DOC Biodiversity Ranger Tony Milner says it’s important whitebaiters keep themselves safe, particularly at the margins of the sea and rivers.

“Whitebaiters using waders should wear belts, and they should consider wearing lifejackets if around deep or turbulent waters,” says Tony. “They should also let people know where they are going and when they should be home again.”

Whitebaiters are reminded to understand and follow the Whitebait Fishing Regulations that help keep the fishery sustainable. These regulations will take pressure off the fishery, improve equity of opportunity between whitebait fishers, and increase consistency across regions. Whitebait face a range of threats and pressures, including habitat degradation, poor water quality, impeded fish passage within river systems as well as fishing pressure. 

Tony says Kāpiti Coast whitebaiters and the wider community have a shared interest in protecting valuable ecosystems like the Waikanae Estuary. 

“The Estuary provides habitat for endangered birds, freshwater fish, and invertebrates. The area of the Estuary has been reduced over the years and it’s under pressure from a range of impacts of modern life. Dogs should only be in the Estuary on the main path and path to the beach from the end of Tutere St, and they must be on leads. 

“The ongoing support of Kāpiti Coast community for protecting and restoring the Estuary and other freshwater habitats is greatly appreciated.”  

To protect the environment and public safety, driving in the Estuary and on adjacent beaches for whitebaiting is also prohibited by three separate sets of regulations administered by DOC, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and KCDC, and normal transport regulations apply. Agencies, together with Police, will be undertaking compliance monitoring and enforcement action during the whitebaiting season.

Anyone with concerns or questions about whitebaiting can call 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362468) 


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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