New Zealand was put on the big-game fishing map after a visit by legendary American writer Zane Grey in the 1920s. Excellent salt-water game can be found off the East Coast of the North Island and as far south as East Cape. New Zealand offers some of the most spectacular sport fishing opportunities in the world, hosting a wide variety of different game fish that often reach their maximum size in our waters. Below is a list of the main salt water species targeted in New Zealand waters.
Game Fish Species:
Striped Marlin: This is our most recognised game fish and the one that put New Zealand on the map as a world-class marlin fishery. We have the largest striped marlin in the world and this is reflected by the large number of line class world records held in New Zealand. Throughout the summer, striped marlin are in abundance around the top half of the North Island, with a large number also running down the west coast. Fish around the 80-120kg mark are considered average with some fish growing in excess of 200kg.
Blue Marlin: Blues are becoming more common in our waters, with The Three Kings, North Cape, Northland and East Cape all having their share of this exciting fish. The average size is around the 200kg mark but much bigger fish have been landed. In 1998 a 456kg specimen was taken off North Cape, the first grander caught in New Zealand waters in since 1968.
Black Marlin: Blacks are more frequently found in closer than other species of marlin and are usually hooked by unsuspecting anglers live baiting off a reef or headland for kingfish. Most are found off the Northland coast and Bay of Plenty region. They are often large fish and although no granders have been taken, numerous fish over 350kg have been caught.
Broadbill Swordfish: Broadbill can be caught here year round off our entire coastline, but the more popular spots are the canyons off the Northland coast and the Three Kings. Broadbill grow very large with the average size normally between 150-250kg.
Yellowfin Tuna: Every year these powerful predators turn up in significant numbers off the upper Northland coast. They are also particularly common in the Bay of Plenty where they herd great schools of baitfish into ‘meatballs’, which makes for explosive fishing! Yellowfin average around 20-35kg with bigger fish around 50-60kg.
Bluefin and Bigeye Tuna: Both species are available year round off the entire coastline. In the last few years anglers have discovered that bluefin are showing up in good numbers off the southwest coast of the South island. Fish around the 60kg weight are caught frequently, with a 198kg specimen caught in October last year off the Kaipara harbour.
Albacore Tuna: During the summer months Albacore can be found in large schools off the north eastern coastline and the entire length of the West Coast. Winter fish tend to be considerably larger, with fish of up to 20kg regularly taken from the Bay of Plenty.
Mako Sharks: Makos are common throughout New Zealand and can be found year round where there is a good food supply and warm water. They vary in size from the relatively small 10-30kg rats to the exceptionally large 450kg. They are most commonly hooked whilst trolling.
Thresher Sharks: Most world records for these unusual sharks are from New Zealand waters, including the all tackle record of 364kg taken off Tutukaka. They are found throughout New Zealand coastal waters.
Sport Fish Species:
Yellowtail Kingfish: This is the other species that put New Zealand on the map as a major sport fishing destination. Kingies reach their maximum size in New Zealand with almost all world records coming from our waters – the current all tackle world record stands at 52kg. These big powerful fish are relatively plentiful and easy to target, but landing them is another story… Here is a client of ours holding a very nice kingfish! !
Snapper: Snapper are found consistently around the entire North Island but are less widespread further south. The average size fish is around 2-3kg, with the really big specimens reaching 15kg. They can put up an impressive fight and are excellent eating.
Kahawai: The kahawai is well established throughout New Zealand and can be found from the inner harbours to the outer islands. This powerful fish has an average weigh of around 2-3kg with the occasional specimen reaching 9kg. Their tremendous fighting ability has earned them a reputation as a top light tackle game fish, especially on saltwater fly.
Trevally: The trevally is another top light tackle sportfish and can be found all around the North Island, and at the top of the South Island. This fish has an average size from 2-4kg and are excellent fun on light tackle.
Please contact us If you would like more information on saltwater game fishing and charter boat options.