Kayak fishing in New Zealand has taken off in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. From the wild West Coast to the tranquil Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand has many rich opportunities for kayak fishing – not to mention some gorgeous landscapes you'll have as a backdrop.
Kayak fishing in New Zealand isn’t complicated, and you don’t need to be an expert. In fact, New Zealand is a great, safe place to try kayak fishing for the very first time, even if you’ve never even thought about it before!
There are lots of kayak fishing tour operators in New Zealand committed to introducing people to this addictive sport, and there are also safety-oriented social clubs to link you up with like-minded people. Of course, if you’re already an experienced kayak fisher, you can head out far from New Zealand’s main cities and tourist routes to find some really rewarding spots, where rich waters with almost no traffic become your playground. To make the most out of kayak fishing in New Zealand, follow our simple tips and suggestions below:
Why try kayak fishing in New Zealand?
Kayak fishing has a lot of attractions beyond just having a bit of fun. To start with, it’s an eco-friendly, environmentally sustainable alternative to motor boats, so you won’t need to feel bad about your carbon footprint. You will also feel better about your own body, since kayak fishing is more active and better exercise than throwing a line out from a boat or off the rocks. That said, the amount of exercise you do comes down to you and your own paddling limits. Navigating between little coves and chasing small fish will mean a more peaceful paddle, say, than powering 4 miles offshore into a swell and hunting the big game. In other words, it can mean total relaxation or a total workout – make sure you know your own level of fitness before any kind of kayak fishing trip you’re looking at.
Another big advantage is accessibility, which covers two aspects. The first point is that it’s much easier and quicker to launch a kayak than a boat. You’ll be out feeling a nibble on the water long before many boats have managed to get launched and make their way out. The second point regarding kayak fishing’s accessibility is that you can get into narrower spaces and more remote spots than even the smallest fishing boats can manage. This is particularly handy New Zealand, where a lot of the coastline is made up of shallow inlets and secluded coves.
Stealth, however, is the main attraction of kayak fishing. No matter how accurate the fish finder on your boat is, nor how quiet the engine and how nifty your navigation skills are, you can never catch fish completely off-guard from a boat. You can, however, from a super quiet kayak.
Where can I go kayak fishing in New Zealand?
Parts of New Zealand that are popular both for fishing and for kayaking – places like the Coromandel Peninsula and Kaikoura – are, naturally, also kayak fishing hot spots. You can find out more about these beautiful kayaking places, and what to expect there, in our previous post about Kayak Rental and Kayaking Shops in New Zealand. Having said that, many New Zealand kayak tour operators now offer kayak fishing as an option, so it’s worth asking them, wherever you plan to go.
If you’ve done plenty of kayak fishing before and you know what you’re doing, yet you’re still looking for somewhere new to do it in New Zealand, that’s easily done. Go online, take a look around some forums and blogs, and you’ll find that there are lots of free-to-join social clubs dedicated to kayak fishing in New Zealand.
Probably the most useful source of information (especially for international visitors) about kayak fishing in New Zealand is the Reef Kayak Fishing Club in Auckland. They have a strong focus on safety, they organise weekly social kayak fishing trips, and they give out free advice on where to go both within the Hauraki Gulf and elsewhere. They also offer a buddy-up system, in order to avoid solo kayakers going out alone.
Alternatively, for every kind of question you can imagine relating to kayak fishing in New Zealand, go straight to the very active and very helpful NZ Kayak Fishing online forum. Keen fishers also share their catches here in great detail, so it’s always good for a browse and a bit of inspiration, too.
What equipment and gear do I need for kayak fishing in New Zealand?
Since kayak fishing in New Zealand is a specialist sport, you need to make sure you have the right gear to do it properly. In addition, the unique climate and changeable weather of many New Zealand regions mean that having all the safety and emergency gear you need is also essential. Things like a high-visibility life jacket (or Personal Floatation Device), a GPS receiver and VHF radio (or a mobile phone) in a dry bag. The dedicated Kayak Fishing Page from New Zealand Fishing World has all the information you need, covering everything from artificial baits and running anchors, to suitable clothing and detailed regional maps.
Whether buying or renting, the most important thing to focus on with kayak fishing in New Zealand is the kayak. Ocean Kayak are the world-leaders for quality and reliability, especially their range of Trident fishing kayaks. You can find a lot of retailers around New Zealand who stock this range, so just have a look around (again, if you need some guidance, refer to our blog post on New Zealand kayak shops and rental outlets). All kayaks in the Trident series are super durable, so even if you decide to buy one only for a season, they do have strong resale value. In addition, plenty of New Zealand kayak outlets offer trade-in deals on second-hand fishing kayaks. Therefore, buying one when you decide to take up kayak fishing, or purchasing one as soon as you arrive in New Zealand, is unlikely to end up being a sunk cost.
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