Whitebaiting in the surf near Okarito River mouth, Westland, West Coast

Image: Jo Macpherson | DOC


Find out about whitebaiting regulations. The whitebait fishing season opens on 15 August, except for the West Coast where it opens on 1 September.

The whitebait fishing season for most of New Zealand opens on 15 August and runs until November 30. 

On the West Coast the whitebait season runs from 1 September until 14 November.

These pages are a summary of the regulations. The full regulations are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.

Stay safe

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.

Read more about biosecurity.

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.
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