Participation in recreational fishing

  • Image, Recreational use fresh water environment.

    Fresh water in New Zealand is highly valued for recreational activities, including fishing. Freshwater angling (primarily for introduced ‘sports fish’ such as brown trout, rainbow trout, and chinook salmon) is a popular leisure activity. Fish licences issued by Fish & Game New Zealand provide an indication of recreational fishing activity at freshwater locations around the country.

    We classified Participation in recreational fishing as supporting information.

    Key findings

    For the 2013/14 fishing season, Fish & Game issued the equivalent of 78,440 whole-season fish licences for adults.

    • In 2013/14, the number of adult-equivalent licences issued was similar to the number issued for each of the fishing seasons from 1980/81 to 1985/86.
    • Over the fishing seasons from 1985/86 to 1993/94, the number of adult-equivalent licences issued decreased 19.1 percent.
    • Over the fishing seasons from 1993/94 to 2013/14, the number of adult-equivalent licences issued increased by an average 1.0 percent a year.

    Note: Excludes licences for the Taupō fishery, which are issued by the Department of Conservation.

    Definition and methodology

    Every person who wants to fish for introduced (non-indigenous) freshwater ‘sports fish’ must first purchase a licence from Fish & Game New Zealand. The main purpose of the licence fee is to cover the cost of managing the fish and their habitats.

    Fish & Game issues fishing licences for adults, families, young adults, and juniors, for whole or part seasons. A whole fishing season runs from 1 October to 30 September. Each type of licence costs a different amount.

    Fish & Game converts all the types of licence sold each year to an equivalent number of adult whole-season licences. To do this, it divides the total cost of all licences issued by the cost of an adult whole-season licence. (For example, the cost of a junior whole-season licence is 20 percent of an adult whole-season licence.)

    The fish licence-equivalent figures do not reflect how often the licences are used, or the average catch per angler.

    Recreational fishers must have a licence to fish for the following introduced freshwater species, defined by the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983 Schedule 1 as ‘sports fish’:

    • brown trout (Salmo trutta)
    • rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, formerly called Salmo gairdneri)
    • American brook trout or char (Salvelinus fontinalis)
    • lake trout or char (Salvelinus namaycush)
    • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
    • quinnat or chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
    • sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
    • perch (Perca fluviatilis)
    • tench (Tinca tinca)
    • rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus, when found or taken in the Auckland Acclimatisation District).

    Data quality

     Topic Classification   Relevance Accuracy 
     Impacts on culture and recreation  Supporting information

    Image, Partial relevance.




    See Data quality information for more detail.

    Archived pages

    See Participation in recreational fishing (archived April 2017).

    Updated 27 April 2017


Related content

Access data files

Culture and recreation data


Related indicators

Trends in freshwater fish


Related links

Our fresh water 2017

Environment Aotearoa 2015

  • Share this page
  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+