The whitebait fishing season dates are:
- for most of New Zealand: 15 August to 30 November.
- for the West Coast:1 September to 14 November.
The pages below are a summary of the regulations. The full regulations are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.
It isn't illegal to sell whitebait. However, sellers need to:
- follow MPI's regulations around whitebait and food safety
- follow IRD’s regulations around paying income tax on earnings.
DOC does not police these regulations.
There are risks with whitebaiting. Take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of friends, family and yourself when carrying out recreational activities around waterways.
Check, Clean, Dry
To prevent the spread of freshwater pests always Check, Clean, Dry all boats and recreational equipment between waterways. See MPI's advice for cleaning your fishing equipment.
Help prevent whitebait decline
Whitebait are in decline, but you can help.
- Follow the whitebait fishing regulations.
- Keep your catch small and only take what you need.
- Release species that are not whitebait.
- Keep streams free from pest plants and fish.
- Report any dams or overhanging culverts to your local Department of Conservation or regional council office.
- Get involved to fence and plant your local streams.
- Ensure culverts, weirs, dams and floodgates on your land are properly installed and maintained to be fish-friendly.