Kayak fishing is taking off in New Zealand, and it’s not hard to see why. From the tranquil Hauraki Gulf to the wild waters of the West Coast, New Zealand is rich in opportunity for kayak fishing. Not to mention the beautiful landscapes you'll always have as a backdrop.
You don’t need to be an expert. In fact, even if you’ve never done kayak fishing before but would like to give it a go, New Zealand is a great place to try it for the first time. There are many kayak fishing tour operators in New Zealand dedicated to introducing people to this addictive sport, as well as safety-oriented social clubs where you can link up with like-minded people. If you’re already an experienced kayak fisherman, you can head further afield than New Zealand’s main cities and tourist routes. The rich waters, with little or no traffic, will become your playground. Follow our tips and suggestions here to make the most of kayak fishing in New Zealand.
Why try kayak fishing in New Zealand?
Kayak fishing has a number of advantages, beyond simply being a lot of fun. First of all, it’s an environmentally sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to motor boats, so you don’t need to feel bad about any environmental footprint. You’ll also feel better about your own body, as kayak fishing is more active than throwing a line from the rocks or off a large fishing boat. How much exercise you end up doing depends a lot on you and what you’re looking for. Navigating small coves and chasing small fish will mean a more peaceful paddle than powering 4 miles offshore and hunting big game. It can be total relaxation or a complete workout – make sure you know your level of fitness and the activity involved in any kind of kayak fishing trip you’re lining up.
Another big advantage is accessibility. This splits into two parts. The first is that it’s much quicker and easier to launch a kayak than a boat. You’ll be out on the water with a nibble on your line before any boats have chugged their way out there. The second facet of kayak fishing’s accessibility is that you can maneuver into smaller spaces than even the smallest fishing boats can reach. This is ideal in New Zealand, where so much of the coastline is peppered by secluded coves and narrow, shallow inlets.
The main attraction of kayak fishing, however, is stealth. No matter how accurate your boat’s fish finder, how quiet your engine, how nifty you are with navigation, you can never catch fish completely off-guard like you can from an almost silent kayak.
Where can I go kayak fishing in New Zealand?
Places that are popular for kayaking and fishing independently – such as Kaikoura and the Coromandel Peninsula – are naturally awesome kayak fishing hot spots. You can read more about these beautiful kayaking spots, and the services offered there, in our previous blog post: Kayak Rental and Kayaking Shops in New Zealand. That said, a lot of New Zealand kayak tour and rental companies now offer kayak fishing, so it’s worth asking wherever you are.
If you already know what you’re doing when it comes to kayak fishing, but you’re looking for somewhere to do it in New Zealand, that’s easy. Have a look around online and you’ll find several free-to-join social clubs dedicated to kayak fishing. Perhaps the most useful for international visitors to New Zealand is the Reef Kayak Fishing Club in Auckland. With a strong focus on safety, they offer weekly social kayak fishing outings, advice on where to go on the Hauraki Gulf and elsewhere, and a buddy-up system to avoid individual kayakers heading out alone. For any and every question you can imagine relating to kayak fishing in New Zealand, head straight to the very active NZ Kayak Fishing online forum. Here, keen anglers also share their catches in great detail, so it’s always good for browsing and inspiration.
What equipment and gear do I need for kayak fishing in New Zealand?
Kayak fishing in New Zealand is a specialist sport and, to do it properly, you need to make sure you have the right gear. New Zealand’s particular climate and weather mean you’ll want to make sure you have all the safety gear you need. Things like a high-visibility PFD, VHF radio/mobile phone (in a dry bag), and a GPS receiver. New Zealand Fishing World’s dedicated Kayak Fishing Page has all the information you could require, from artificial baits to running anchors, appropriate clothing to detailed maps.
The most important thing to focus on is the kayak, whether buying or renting. The world-leaders for quality and reliability are the Ocean Kayak brand, in particular their Trident series of fishing kayaks.You’ll find many retailers across New Zealand stocking these top-of-the-range vessels. The Trident series are extremely durable, so even if you choose to buy one just for a season, they have strong resale value. In fact, many New Zealand kayak shops will even offer trade-in deals on used fishing kayaks, so purchasing one when you arrive in New Zealand is unlikely to be a sunk cost. Of course, you can leave it all up to the experts and rent a fishing kayak all over New Zealand.