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 Marfells Beach regions are closed:
- Gathering of shellfish and seaweed is prohibited between Marfells Beach and the Conway River out to a distance of 4 nautical miles from shore.
- This closure does not apply to rock lobster, scampi or octopus. These may be gathered in this area.
Find out more
Details of closures, including maps of the closed areas, are in the box called 'Closures and restrictions'
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.
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, 662 KB]
- 한국어 (Korean) [PDF, 548 KB]
- Tagalog (Filipino) [PDF, 511 KB]
- Samoan [PDF, 540 KB]
- Tongan [PDF, 449 KB]
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 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.
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||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, for example 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||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).
+Shellfish collection is currently prohibited in the Kaikoura and Cape Campbell regions due to the earthquake closure. See map under closures and restrictions for more information. This ban does not apply to rock lobster, scampi or octopus.
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).
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.
Labelled diagram of a telson-clipped lobster [PDF, 551 KB]
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
- Waiopuka (Wakatu Quay)
Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Kaikōura earthquake-related closure
The area between Marfells Beach (west of Cape Campbell) and the Conway River (which sits south of the Kaikōura township), extending 4 nautical miles from shore is closed to the gathering of shellfish and seaweed – excluding rock lobster, scampi and octopus.
The closure applies to both recreational and commercial fishers, and is necessary to help the recovery of these fisheries.
- It applies to all shellfish and seaweed species.
- The closure excludes scampi (Metanephrops challengeri), rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) and octopus (Pinnoctopus cordiformis).
- Gathering shellfish or seaweed in the closed area is an offence and you could be fined up to $100,000.
Marlborough and North Canterbury fishing areas
The marine environment in the shellfish and seaweed closure area is damaged after the earthquakes, and it’s going to take several years to recover. The loss of fishing grounds between North Canterbury (Conway River) and Marlborough (Marfells Beach) has caused an increase in fishing pressure on the neighbouring areas.
If you are gathering kaimoana in Marlborough and Canterbury, do your part to help keep these fisheries sustainable by:
- Limiting your catch by taking less than your bag limit and just enough for a feed.
- Changing your fishing method or area if you are only catching small fish or shellfish.
- Taking special care to return an underside fish and shellfish immediately and with minimum harm.
- Check local rules for updates every time you go fishing – download the NZ Fishing Rules app.
- Report suspicious or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24).
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.
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.
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