The Nelson region is renowned for it’s warm dry summers and has the highest annual sunshine hours consistently for the entire country. The city of Nelson is an ideal base for the keen fly fisher as it’s within easy reach of a myriad of exceptional waterways and a short drive from the towns of  Murchison, St Arnaud (Nelson Lakes), Motueka and Blenheim.

Nelson has many other attractions for the visiting angler and family with Cafes, Beaches, Golf courses, Quad biking, Shooting range, Gardens and Art galleries to name a few.

There are four main river systems around the Nelson region – The Pelorus, Buller, Wairau and Motueka. These all have tributaries of great interest as although the numbers are lower than the parent river, the average size is often much larger.


The Nelson Lakes is a wonderful area with a swiss alpine feel to it. The two lakes (Rotoiti & Rotoroa) have three noteworthy tributaries – the Travers, Sabine & D’Urville rivers. The Travers is brown trout only with the other two containing some splendid rainbows to compliment the hard fighting browns.

The Buller river flows from Lake Rotoiti and contains brown trout throughout it’s length averaging 3-4lbs with fish up to trophy size present.  The tributaries of this large river include the Owen, Matakitaki, Maruia, Mangles & Matiri rivers with good fishing available for brown trout in them all.


Heading east of Nelson is the Marlborough district with the Pelorus river and feeder streams the Rai & Wakamarina that have a mix of Brown and Rainbows present throughout.

Further to the east are the Wairau (the largest of the district) Awatere and Clarence. The Wairau is a big braided river with an open ‘big sky’ feel to it. Tributaries include the Goulter, Waihopai, Branch & Leatham rivers with fewer but larger fish throughout.

The Clarence river drains lake Tennyson with the 10 or so kms from the lake the most productive and it’s major tributary the Acheron worth a look also.


Starting with the rugged and remote North West Nelson Forest Park (Kahaurangi National Park) and its main river system, the Karamea (with notable tribs, the Leslie, Crow, Roaring Lion and Ugly rivers), the West coast has a fishery that, although unpredictable, is one of the country’s finest.

The Reefton district has a wonderful array of wilderness rivers in close proximity to the township including the Rough, Grey, Robinson, Moonlight, Slatey, Stoney, Waitahu and Larrys Creek. All are worthy of a look and carry big fish (trophy) at times.

This is a very brief overview of the fishery at the top of the South Island.

I pride myself in being intimately familiar with all of the locations described above and would love to share my knowledge and the wonderful wild trout and surroundings with you. Take advantage of my many years of hard won experience to maximise you dream trip to New Zealand.