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Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:34 am
by SeaCoarseGame
Hi Guys,

Totally new to the forum, so forgive me for bowling in with a few direct questions as a first post.

I've been an angler for over 50 years, a fly angler for the past 10 and next year hit a birthday milestone which requires a fitting holiday.

So it's on that note, that a tour of New Zealand has been planned for a month with, of course, the fly rods coming with me.

Now I thought finding some suitable fishing was going to be child's play but the more I read, the more I realise the choices are not straightforward.

I had planned to fish a couple of locations in the south island, one not too far from Picton, and a final day when we arrive in Queenstown. But then, after sending out a couple of emails, the costs came back and they were surprising. $750.00NZ for a day's guiding seems a bit steep, but I am of course somewhat conditioned to UK guide rates. Perhaps this is the market rate driven by wealthy visitors looking for trophy fish.

My needs are somewhat more modest however. I do enjoy landing a big fish occassionally, but I find that I'm not bothered when I don't. Clearly then, the need to find big fish isn't part of my reason to fish. Just being in a lovely location is good enough, and all the photo's I do see of NZ rivers leads me to believe I would be more than happy mostly anywhere, small or big.

But reading deeper on the forum I read a lot about a lot of rivers running dry due to the over-extraction of water for irrigation as well as many of the 'top spots' on rivers being somewhat crowded with guys being choppered-in.

Having said all of this, here are my question(s) (and I thank all in advance for their kind replies and inputs):

Am I being conditioned by marketing hype at looking at only the south island's river fishing?
Is a guide necessary for a visiting angler? (I am on tight time constraints but I do love finding my own way and don't ever use a guide in the UK).
Are guide prices pretty consistently $750NZ/day or is it only the big professional lodges that charge this high?
Can you fish anywhere, or is angling on certain stretches under the control of the landowners?

I'm sure I'll have a few more questions as replies roll-in but these will start me off. I am, by the way, strictly C&R. I have no desire to punctuate my days by killing anything.

Thanks in advance......SeaCoarseGame

Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:53 am
by upstream
Welcome to the forum SCG.

$750 for a day's guiding is well within market rates. The going rate is anything from $550 to $850 a day, with guides with more established reputations able to charge closer to the upper end of that scale. You don't need a guide, but a guide will shortcut your learning curve drastically. If you don't get a guide then you will need to be able to dedicate more time on the water in order to achieve success.

New Zealand has a long tradition of public access to waters. There isn't uniform public access, but most rivers have recognised access points. You can find these on Fish and Game pamphlets or you can look at Walking Access NZ maps for more detail.

The North Island has plenty of good trout fishing, and thanks to a predominance of dumb rainbows in the North, you have a good chance of catching something. The South has more majestic scenery, the trout on average are larger, but there are fewer of them, and they can be more demanding to catch.

Hope this helps...

Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:53 pm
by WiscoNZ
Heres my big pointers for you as having just moved here 9 months ago and learning the ropes. Pay for a guide the first day or two. Get some advice. Most people are fairly accommodating if you get the right guy. Do some research on the areas you'll be in. Just like most fishing places access can be an issue. Once you've gotten on, you're golden. I'm not sure when you're coming but if it's during the winter here many of the rivers and lakes are closed. You can find good fishing thats open still but tougher to find. If you were in the Christchurch area, I'd tell you to email me personally and I'd give you a few places to go. I don't know the picton area or Queenstown are myself at all. Another thing that will make a difference is how much physical exertion you want to do. I've found one of the keys to my success is just putting in my work then the casual fishermen and walking further and deeper.

You'll see a lot of people on here talking about running into a lot of other anglers. I've had some run ins but honestly I've fished off the beat and on week days and had almost zero trouble and surreal fishing. Also utilize the ecan website for river flows.

And to hype you up this is one I got last Monday on my Birthday... smallest one we caught that day!


Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:03 am
by canuck
I would strongly suggest getting a guide. They will give you a good chance of catching fish on your first day(s) and showing you incredible scenery at the same time, let them know that is what you are looking for.

It sounds like you are only fishing for a few days? If that is the case by the time you sort out access, spotting, differences in technique, spooky fish, flooded rivers, windy days you may end up disappointed in your NZ experience. Of course you may be fortunate and blunder into a great day on a great river.

My experience and future fishing success was greatly improved by getting a guide. Prior to that I had multiple days with little or no success. As a fringe benefit he improved my casting skills and highlighted some other areas that I could improve my fishing technique. I agree it is expensive but it was worth the money.


Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:44 am
by Erik Moller
I agree with the other guys' advises.
On my first visit, me and a mate hired a top notch guide for the first day. He was NZD 600/day + the expence of a boat ride to the place he recommended (and that was back in Y2K).
Lot of money for us we thought, even split two ways. But again he was worth it. We came with the impression that cathching trout in NZ was impossible unless you'd spottet the fish, but he taught us that blind fishing the right spots can be very productive, along with other great tips and spotted fish we would never had seen. We caught a good number of fish that day.
Of course he took us to a water that he knew would be good under the given time and conditions, so we struggled a bit on our own afterwards not having the experience he had.
A few days later we hired a "part time" guide. He was half the price and worked very hard for us but did not bring near the the results of the pro, in terms of fish caught.
So, I recommend getting a good guide to get you right. Especially if your time is limited.
Only problem as I see it (apart from the expense) is that the good guides need to be booked well in advance and you don't know if it's gonna be a shit day weather wise. Not sure what the score is if conditions are close to unfishable, maybe someone else can answer that. We were lucky and had fair conditions with some rain but clear water.

Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 11:33 pm
by SeaCoarseGame
Many thanks to each of you for your replies, Canuck, Erik Moller, WiscoNZ and Upstream.

Each post brings some food for thought and I think I'm adjusting to the idea of a guide and the associated expense thereof.

As already mentioned, this is a joint holiday/tour with my ever loving wife who's put up with me and my obsessions for 35 years, so I'll only be taking a couple of days out of our schedule to fish. In any event, she'll be on her own with a credit card and two days to burn so things might get expensive!

Thanks again to all who've helped. If anyone else wishes to add to the thread please do and I'll get back to you.


Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:12 pm
by WiscoNZ
If you're only taking a few days to do it, just get the guide brother. I know that feels kinda off for experienced fisherman like yourself to not just trust his own skills. But on the other hand... catch some trophies... have some FUN. 35 years of fishing. I think you've earned some easy street here. The trout are friking monsters here. Don't miss the opportunity to do it, I believe you'll be glad you did.

Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Mon May 21, 2018 11:58 pm
by SeaCoarseGame
Thanks WiscoNZ. I'm pretty well invested in the guide aspect of the islands now, so I'll dig into my pockets and support the NZ economy a bit more. As I said, trophy trout aren't the goal for me but I wouldn't turn one away. If it was a choice between half a dozen hard fighting mid size fish and one trophy fish, I'd taken the half dozen any day of the week (as a visitor ) - I'm really not after bragging rights and rarely take photo's of fish.

Really looking forward to the tour now though. I've heard the country is one you never want to leave!


Re: Visiting angler - North or South Island - Guide or no Guide

Posted: Sat May 26, 2018 2:20 pm
by WiscoNZ
Cheers, best of lucky to you. Post back with the outcome of your trip, I'd love to see your results.