Kaikōura area fishing rules
Recreational fishing rules for the Kaikōura area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.
Due to the earthquake of 14 November 2016, fisheries in the Kaikōura and Cape Campbell regions are closed:
- Collection of shellfish and seaweed is prohibited between Marfells Beach and the Conway River out to a distance of 4 nautical miles.
Details, including a map of the closed area, are in the 'Closures and restrictions' box on this page.
What you need to know
This area is within the South-East area but has different rules. It covers the waters from Clarence Point to the mouth of the Conway River out to a distance of 12 nautical miles.
All recreational fishing – including potting, netting and all other fishing methods – is covered by rules.
This page is a summary of daily bag and size limits and closed and restricted areas.
For more information about rules you can:
- download the rules brochure [PDF, 1.6 MB]
- get the free NZ Fishing Rules app – Apple or Android
- send a free text to 9889 with the name of a species – for example "blue cod" or "pāua". You'll be sent legal bag and size limits for that species by return text.
You can also:
- get a rules brochure from MPI offices
- email MPI to be posted the rules brochure
- read the full rules in the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013 – NZ Legislation website
It is illegal to buy, sell or swap recreationally caught seafoodThese are offences against the Fisheries Act which can result in fines up to $250,000.
In the Kaikōura area there is a combined maximum daily bag limit of 30 finfish per fisher, consisting of any combination of species listed in Table 1. Individual species limits must not be exceeded.
Any catch taken from the area is included in the combined daily bag limit for the South-East area.
|Finfish Species||Max daily limit per fisher||Min fish length (cm)|
|Albacore tuna||See below**||–|
|Blue shark||1 game shark total||–|
|Flatfish (except Sand flounder)||30||25|
|Hammerhead shark||1 game shark total||–|
|Mako shark||1 game shark total||–|
|Porbeagle shark||1 game shark total||–|
|Red moki||No take||–|
|Seven gilled shark||1 game shark total||–|
|Thresher shark||1 game shark total||–|
* Kaikōura – North Canterbury (those waters between Clarence Point and the Waimakariri River). Maximum daily limit of 10 blue cod per person fishing.
** Daily combined bag limit of 5 per person with a maximum of 3 of any one species.
Harvesting Karengo and Bladder kelp are subject to daily limits and restrictions as follows:
|Species||Daily limit per fisher||Restriction|
|Karengo||5 litre wet volume measured in a 5 litre bucket||Require hand gathering|
|Bladder kelp||5 litre wet volume measured in a 5 litre bucket||Require hand gathering|
Shellfish are taken when they cannot freely return to the water e.g. placed into a catch bag or similar. At no time while gathering may you be in possession of more than your daily limit.
|Shellfish Species||Daily limit per fisher||Min size (mm)|
|Kina (sea eggs)||20||none|
– Yellow foot
|Pupu (Cats eye)||20||none|
|All others (combined) •||30||none|
• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above, and includes all crabs, limpets, starfish, periwinkles, whelks, barnacles and freshwater crayfish (koura).
Daily bag limits
Maximum of 6 rock lobster (both species combined) on any one day.
Spiny rock lobster minimum size
Measure the tail width in a straight line between the tips of the two large (primary) spines on the second segment of the tail. If you are unsure of the sex, use the 60mm measurement.
Packhorse lobster minimum size
Measure the tail length along the underside in a straight line from the rear of the calcified bar on the first segment to the tip of the middle fan of the tail. Must have a tail length of at least 216mm (male and female).
The telson is the central part of the tail fan on a rock lobster. Telson clipping is a way of marking spiny rock lobster to make it clear that they have been recreationally caught. One-third of the telson is cut off so that it is noticeably shorter than the other sections of the tail fan.
In the Kaikōura area, fishers must check that a lobster is legal size, condition and not subject to any other protections (i.e. carrying eggs) then, must immediately cut one-third off the telson.
Additional rules and protections
There are rules and protections for gathering rock lobster/crayfish that cover: protected types, gathering methods, pot construction and use. For more details check the:
No fishing is allowed, this includes Marine Reserves.
- Hikurangi Marine Reserve
- Wakatu Quay
Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
The area between Marfells Beach (west of Cape Campbell) and the Conway River (which sits south of the Kaikōura township), extending 4 nautical miles offshore (see map) is closed for the collection of shellfish and seaweed – excluding rock lobster and scampi.
This is part of MPI's emergency response to the 14 November Kaikōura earthquake.
- It applies to shellfish and seaweed species until 5 pm on 20 November 2017.
- The closure excludes scampi (Metanephrops challengeri) and rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii).
- Collecting shellfish or seaweed in the closed area is an offence.
Map: The affected area of the earthquake-related closure
Particular fishing methods are banned or catch/bag limits for particular species are different.
- Ōhau New Zealand Fur Seal Sanctuary
- Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha Whale Sanctuary
Food safety warnings
Warnings are issued when shellfish are unsafe to eat because of contamination with biotoxin.
Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help us by providing:
- the location
- vehicle/trailer registration number
- boat name
- description of the person
When reporting any suspected poaching put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.
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