Touring Routes

Freshwater fishing on the West Coast

If you're after a chance to fish for wild trout, the lakes of the West Coast are perfect for you. Take a leisurely paced journey through the West Coast, visiting lakes as you make your way down south from Lake Brunner through to Haast. Many of the rivers support trout populations and sea-run salmon turn up in local lakes and rivers from January.




5 days


331 mi / 533 km


October - April

Day One

2 hours 56 mins, 214 km

TranzAlpine to Lake Brunner

Take the TranzAlpine train journey from Christchurch, recognised as one of the 6 top short train journeys in the world and one form of public transport that you'll actually wish took a little bit longer!

Disembark at Moana for your fishing adventure in this brown trout mecca. Lake Brunner is famous for brown trout that die of old age.

Around Moana

Day Two

1 hour 14 mins, 86.7 km

Lake Mahinapua

In Greymouth you can hire a car. Greymouth and the surrounding Grey Valley offer adventure activities, heritage attractions and guided nature tours.

Mosey on down through to Hokitika. About 15 minutes south of Hokitika is Lake Mahinapua, rich in history and breathtaking views.

Sports fish in this lake include:

  • Brown trout.
  • Perch.

Venture onto the lake itself with West Coast Scenic Waterways. The lake is rich in bird life as well as mining history.

Around Hokitika

Day Three

35 mins, 45.0 km

Lake Ianthe

Journey further south down the road where you will come to the small village of Ross, famous for being the spot where New Zealand’s largest ever gold nugget was unearthed - the “Roddy Nugget”, weighing a massive 3.1kg. Learn about the town's heritage and hire a gold pan to try your hand at the Ross Goldfields Information Centre – you might just find your own “Roddy”. Alternatively, head to the river where there is also a public gold fossicking area.

A little further south is Lake Ianthe. Brown Trout and Quinnat Salmon can be found in this lake.

Around Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier

Day Four

55 mins, 69.8 km

Lake Mapourika

Journey further into Glacier Country for the next leg of your fishing adventure.

At Lake Mapourika the boat ramp not suitable for large boats.

Sports fish in the lake include:

  • Brown Trout,
  • Quinnat Salmon.

Glacier Country is Whataroa, Okarito, Lake Mapourika, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson and Gillespies Beach

South of Fox Glacier you will find a salmon farm and cafe. It makes for an interesting stop where you can feed the salmon and then taste the product!

Around Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier

Day Five

1 hour 35 mins, 119 km

Lake Moeraki

Fish that can be found in this lake:

  • Brown Trout,
  • Quinnat Salmon,
  • Rainbow Trout.

Haast is known as “The Gates of Haast” which is a lost world that's so spectacular and remote UNESCO designated it a "World Heritage" area.

From Haast to Jackson Bay there are empty shingle beaches, dunes, lakes and wetlands, all with the soaring backdrop of the Southern Alps making it an outdoor enthusiast's playground.

Tramping, hunting and if you want speed, jet boating tours with Waiatoto River Safari or Haast River Safari on the local rivers are available. There are a multitude of outstanding award winning short walks too.

There is an abundance of wildlife and tours to view fur seals, Hectors Dolphins and Fiordland Crested Penguins. This is real whitebaiting country and fishing is outstanding from Jackson Bay.

For a fabulous whitebait pattie call into the Curly Tree Whitebait Company, the Fantail cafe or the Otoko espresso for a real local treat in simply the best environment in which to enjoy this delectable delicacy.

We recommend staying here for the night as there is a great variety of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes!

The next day carry on south towards Queenstown.

Around Haast

Itinerary Map


About the author

West Coast Tourism, .

We love the West Coast! Our passion is promoting our awesome region both here in New Zealand and around the world.