Southland area fishing rules
Recreational fishing rules for the Southland area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.
What you need to know
This area covers the waters south and west from Awarua Point, South Westland to Slope Point, and the Catlins south-east coast.
It also covers Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island, and all adjacent islands and waters out to 200 nautical miles.
Note, the area excludes Fiordland, which has different rules.
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, 2.6 MB]
- 한국어 (Korean) [PDF, 2.6 MB]
- Tagalog (Filipino) [PDF, 2.4 MB]
- Samoan [PDF, 2.6 MB]
- Tongan [PDF, 2.3 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 Southland area there is a combined daily bag limit of 30 finfish per fisher, consisting of any combination of the species listed on the following table. Individual species limits must not be exceeded.
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 length (cm)||Max daily limit per fisher||Min mesh size for nets (mm)|
|Blue cod –Southern area (Taiaroa Head, Otago to Sand Hill Point, Southland)||33||15||100|
|Blue cod – (Te Whaka ā Te Wera/ Paterson Inlet Mātaitai Reserve)||10|
|Flatfish (except Sand flounder)||25||30||100|
|Herring (Yellow eyed mullet)||–||–||25|
|Seven gilled shark||–||1||100|
|White pointer shark||-||No take||-|
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.
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)
– Yellow foot
(Season: 1 Oct to 15 Mar)
|All others (combined) •||50||none|
* Excluding Stewart Island where the mussel limit is 50.
† Divers on a vessel may take an additional quota of oysters or scallops for up to two people acting in a dive safety capacity. Note: This only applies to taking oysters and scallops.
# Toheroa must not be taken, possessed or disturbed unless authorised by a Customary Authority.
• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above and includes all crabs, limpets, catseyes, cook’s turban, 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.
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).
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.
Accumulation limit: When your fishing trip is more than one day, if you can prove you have not taken more than the daily bag limit on any given day you can possess 2 daily bag limits of blue cod.
Measurable state: Within the Southern blue cod management area (Taiaroa Head, Otago to Sand Hill Point, Southland) all blue cod must be landed whole or gutted, or headed and gutted (with the pectoral fins still attached). Headed state minimum length is 24cm, measured from the base of the side pectoral fin to the middle ray of the tail fin.
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.
- Ulva Island - Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve
Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Particular fishing methods are banned or catch/bag limits for particular species are different.
- Slope Point to Sandhill Point - no set netting
- Te Waewae Bay between Old Man Rock, west of Garden Bay and Sandhill Point - no set netting.
Areas where tangata whenua manage non-commercial fishing through bylaws:
Mataura River - Southland
Waitutu - Southland
Te Whaka a Te Wera - Stewart Island
- view the map [PDF, 164 KB]
- read the bylaw notice – NZ Gazette website
- read the corrigendum to the notice - NZ Gazette website
Horomamae - Titi Islands
Pikomamaku - Titi Islands
Kaihuka - Titi Islands
Rules brochures are available for:
- Mataura River Mātaitai [PDF, 1.5 MB]
- Te Whaka a Te Wera/Paterson Inlet Mātaitai Reserve [PDF, 1.4 MB]
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 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.
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.
Follow us on Facebook
We have some regional pages to bring you information about the fishing rules and how we manage and protect local fisheries.
Follow the Facebook page for: