• A Long Weekend Guide to Hunting and Fishing in the South Island

    A Long Weekend Guide to Hunting and Fishing in the South Island

A Long Weekend Guide to Hunting and Fishing in the South Island

November 3, 2021

New Zealand’s South Island is home to incredible hunting and fishing opportunities, found across an unbelievable variety of vibrant landscapes. One moment you could be fly-fishing for trout in crystal-clear waters, and the next you could be choppered into a remote valley to hunt wild deer and tahr.

While you could easily spend a week or longer discovering each destination, we’ve packed some of our top spots into this long weekend itinerary that winds its way south from the West Coast through to Mt Cook, Wanaka and ultimately into our beloved Fiordland.

Our helicopters are the ticket to accessing some of the most remote and untouched areas of the South Island, and our experienced guides know the area inside and out. Read on to discover the destinations we call home, and if there’s a particular spot or species on your wishlist, just let us know – we’ll go the extra mile to custom-create a long weekend you’ll never forget.

Day One: West Coast

Start your trip in the rugged and untamed wilderness of the West Coast, a playground for every keen hunter and angler. With an extensive coastline and vast mountain ranges, it’s well worth venturing off the beaten track to discover the region’s prime hunting and fishing spots.

With a Department of Conservation permit, go big-game hunting in conservation land where you’ll find deer, tahr, pigs, and goats. Duck shooting season starts in early May and carries through the winter, with grey, mallard, paradise, and shoveler ducks to be found within the swamps and marshes.

If you’re more at home with a rod in your hand, the West Coast is ideal surfcasting territory; gurnard, kahawai and snapper are among the most-caught species along the coastline. February is salmon-fishing season, where you can troll in Lakes Mapourika, Paringa, and Moeraki, or cast in the Hokitika and Taramakau rivers.

If you’re visiting between early September and mid-November, join the West Coast locals in the excitement of the whitebait season. This tiny translucent fish is a local delicacy, often served up as a tasty fritter – grab a net and bucket and try your luck!

Finish your day off at one of the many character pubs in the small towns dotted along the coast, where you’re bound to strike up a deep chat with the friendly locals and share stories of the day’s adventures.

A fishing boat on the blue water in Fiordland.

Fishing on Lake Brunner, West Coast. Credit: Tourism West Coast.

Day Two: Wanaka and Mt Cook

Wanaka is a region blessed with plenty of waterways abundant with trout and salmon – a perfect spot to drop your line. Fishing in the picturesque Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, or in the Clutha and Makarora rivers is the ideal complement to your long weekend itinerary; the region offers up plenty of thrilling fly and sight fishing experiences for anglers of all abilities.

If you’re looking for prime alpine hunting opportunities, head to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, nestled amongst the Southern Alps. Travelling by helicopter with Heliworks Mt Cook allows you to land right in the thick of it, the perfect backcountry territory for hunting bull tahr, buck chamois, fallow deer, and red stag.

Stay overnight in Wanaka or Queenstown and unwind after an action-packed day in the great outdoors, or choose to extend your trip and stay in a DOC hut overnight. Liebig and Onslow huts both have helicopter access.

Three men standing with stags and a helicopter flying low in the background.

Credit: Southern Lakes Helicopters.

Day Three: Fiordland

Fiordland is well-known for its trout fishing, with pristine waters set amongst alpine backdrops – it’s a landscape like no other. Whether it’s your first-time fly-fishing or you’re a pro angler, a day of casting for brown and rainbow trout makes for a great challenge. The Eglinton River is a particular highlight, with its meadow-like scenery and plentiful stock. Visit between October and April for the best stocks.

The mountains of Fiordland National Park and nearby Pyke Forest are a hunter’s paradise, with free-range hunting for chamois, red deer, wapiti, elk, fallow bucks, tahr, and small game galore. We can guide you into the area and help carry gear and equipment in and out. But keep in mind the best months of the year to hunt are April to August.

Rest up in Te Anau, where you’ll find fantastic restaurant and accommodation options, before heading home after an epic long weekend.

Two people sitting in a small fishing boat wearing life jackets.

Fishing on Lake Te Anau. Credit: Great South.

Whichever region you choose to explore, our expert local guides have plenty of secret spots and local knowledge up their sleeves to share. We’ll take you directly into the wilderness where you can truly get away from it all, allowing you to focus on the catch and enjoy the serenity. No matter where you’re inspired to visit next, we’re happy to create a bespoke package to suit you.

Ensure you’ve brushed up on Mountain Safety Council’s guidelines before you set off and purchase a permit from DOC and/or a fishing license from Fish and Game. Then the adventure truly begins – get in touch to lock in your next trip!