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Recreational Fishing

Fishing and collecting seafood are among New Zealand's most popular recreational activities and important parts of our way of life.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for setting and enforcing recreational fishing rules. These rules keep New Zealand’s fisheries sustainable, ensuring they can be enjoyed by future generations.

Recreational fishing rules cover:

  • bag and catch limits
  • potting and netting methods
  • equipment
  • restricted and closed areas.

The rules are set by region and apply to all fishers in all areas of New Zealand waters. If you’re going fishing, the rules affect you.

The rules can, and do, change so it’s important you check them every time before you head out.

Check the Rules

Click a region below to check the local fishing rules:

Auckland and Kermadec Fishery Management Area.
& Kermadec

Central Fishery Management Area.

South East Fishery Management Area.
South East

Kaikoura Fishery Management Area.  

Southland Fishery Management Area.

Challenger Fishery Management Area.

Fiordland Fishery Management Area.

Alternatively you can:

  • Request a printed copy of the brochure
  • Visit your nearest MPI office and collect a brochureundefined

  • Check the rules using our free app or free-text service

    Things to remember

    Daily limits

    All recreational fishers must stick to the legal regional catch limits for finfish, crayfish and shellfish, and can face penalties for overfishing.

    Find out more about legal requirements , penalties and restrictions .

    Measure your catch carefully

    It’s important to accurately measure your catch to make sure it’s within legal size limits.


    Finfish length is measured from the tip of the nose to the middle ray or “V” in the tail.

    Rock Lobster and Spiny Rock Lobster

    For Rock Lobster and Spiny Rock Lobster, measure their tail width. Measure in a straight line between the tips of the two large (primary) spines on the second segment.

    Sex is easily determined:

    • females have small pincers on the rear pair of legs
    • females have pleopods (see diagram) in paired form on the underside of their tails
    • males have pleopods (see diagram) in single form on the underside of their tails

    Packhorse Rock Lobster

    For Packhorse Rock Lobster, measure their tail length.
    Measure along the underside of the tail 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.


    Measure the greatest length of the shell in a straight line.
    Do not measure over the curve of the shell.


    Measure the greatest diameter of the shell.

    Dredge Oysters

    Must not pass through a rigid circular metal ring with an inside diameter of 58 mm.

    Release undersized fish properly

    Size limits are set at levels that allow species to breed at least once before being caught, helping to keep fisheries at sustainable levels.

    Remember to release all undersize fish with care and return them as close as possible to the place they were found, especially shellfish and rock lobster.

    Find out more

    Never sell or trade your catch

    It is illegal to sell or trade recreational fish for any financial gain or profit.
    Find out more about legal requirements , penalties and restrictions .

    Marine Reserves

    Each fishing region has marine reserves where no fishing is allowed. The reserves are administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

    Latest news

    Read the latest MPI fishing news and information

Must not pass through a rigid circular metal ring with an inside diameter of 58 mm. Read the latest
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Updated : 6 August 2014