Fiordland area fishing rules
Recreational fishing rules for the Fiordland area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.
What you need to know
This area (Te Moana o Atawhenua), covers the Fiordland coastal marine area out to 12 nautical miles from Awarua Point to Sandhill Point, excluding the area around the Solander Islands.
All recreational fishing – including potting, netting and all other fishing methods – is covered by rules.
Remember, if you're a recreational fisher, selling any fish or shellfish you catch is illegal.
Ways to check the rules
This page has a summary of:
You can also check rules in our brochures, use the free NZ Fishing Rules app, or text us. You'll also see signs about rules at many fishing spots.
Get a brochure
- 中国话的 (Chinese) [PDF, 1.5 MB]
- 한국어 (Korean) [PDF, 1.3 MB]
- Tagalog (Filipino) [PDF, 1.4 MB]
- Samoan [PDF, 1.6 MB]
- Tongan [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Download the free NZ Fishing Rules app
Or free text "app" to 9889 to be sent the links to your phone. Once installed, the app will work without an internet connection.
Use our free text service
Send a free text to 9889 with the name of a species.
For example, text "blue cod" or "pāua" to 9889. You'll be sent legal bag and size limits for that species by return text.
In the Fiordland area there is a combined daily bag limit of 30 finfish, consisting of any combination of the species listed on the following table. Individual species limits must not be exceeded.
Accumulation of finfish beyond the daily limit is prohibited. Possession of fish above species limit or combined maximum daily bag limit is unlawful.
There is no limit on finfish species not listed below.
Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for finfish within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.
|Finfish Species||Min fish length (cm)||Max daily limit per fisher|
Blue Cod - internal waters (excluding Doubtful, Thompson and Bradshaw Sounds)
Blue Cod - Doubtful, Thompson, Bradshaw Sounds internal waters
Blue Cod - Outside internal waters of Fiordland
|Flatfish||25 (except sand flounder which is 23)||30|
|Groper/Hapuku/Bass - internal waters sub limit||-||3|
|Groper/Hapuku/Bass - other areas (inlcudes the limit of 3 from internal waters)||-||5|
|Sea perch/Jock Stewart||-||10|
|Seven gilled shark||-||1|
Shellfish are take 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.
Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for shellfish within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.
|Shellfish Species||Max daily limit per fisher||Min size (mm)|
|Kina (sea eggs)||50||none|
(Season: 1 Mar to 31 Aug)
– Ordinary black foot*
– Yellow foot*
(Season: 1 Oct to 15 Mar)
|All others (combined) •||50||none|
* No accumulation of paua or scallop daily limits within the Fiordland Marine Area.
† A diver or divers on a vessel may gather an additional bag limit of oysters or scallops for up to two people acting in a dive safety capacity on the vessel.
• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above and includes all crabs, catseyes, cook’s turban, limpets, starfish, periwinkles and freshwater crayfish (koura).
Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for rock lobster within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.
Daily bag limits
Maximum of 6 rock lobster (both species combined) on any one day.
Maximum of 3 taken from within the Milford Sound internal waters of Fiordland.
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).
Accumulation means having in your possession fish/shellfish caught/gathered over more than one day. In Fiordland there is a 3-day accumulation limit of 15 rock lobster, no more than 3 may be taken from the Milford Sound internal waters of Fiordland.
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:
Blue cod restrictions
Minimum pot mesh size: 54 mm. Blue cod pots must use rigid square mesh with a minimum inside dimension of 54mm.
It is prohibited to use or set any blue cod pot within the internal waters of Fiordland.
Accumulation limit: Within the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area, no accumulation applies for blue cod possession beyond one day's limit. Within the wider South West blue cod management area (excluding the Fiordland Marine Area), when fishing over two or more days, with proof you can possess a maximum of 2 times the daily bag limit for blue cod.
Measurable state: Within the South West blue cod management area (Sand Hill Point to South Bank of Haast River), all blue cod must be landed whole or gutted.
Fishers may possess blue cod in another processed state if it is immediately eaten on board the fishing vessel from which it was taken. Any fish eaten, form part of the daily limit.
No fishing is allowed, this includes Marine Reserves.
- Milford Sound internal waters - closed to blue cod fishing
- Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve
- Te Hapua (Sutherland Sound) Marine Reserve
- Hawea (Clio Rocks) Marine Reserve (Bligh Sound)
- Kahukura (Gold Arm) Marine Reserve (Charles Sound)
- Katu Parera (Gaer Arm) Marine Reserve (Bradshaw Sound)
- Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) Marine Reserve (Doubtful Sound)
- Taipari Roa (Elizabeth Island) Marine Reserve (Doubtful Sound)
- Moana Uta (Wet Jacket Arm) Marine Reserve (Acheron Passage)
- Taumoana (Five Fingers Peninsula) Marine Reserve (Dusky Sound)
- Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Sound) Marine Reserve (Preservation Inlet)
Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Particular fishing methods are banned or catch/bag limits for particular species are different.
- Pendulo Reach (Doubtful Sound) - use of rock lobster pots and holding pots prohibited
- Doubtful, Thompson and Bradshaw Sounds internal waters - daily limit of 1 blue cod per fisher (with no accumulation).
Food safety warnings
Warnings are issued when shellfish are unsafe to eat because of contamination with biotoxin.
New restrictions from 1 October 2020
On 1 October 2020, new measures restricting recreational set-net fishing will take effect along the west coast of the North Island, and the north, south, and east coasts of the South Island. In addition, drift netting will be prohibited in all New Zealand waters.
Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email email@example.com
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.
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.
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