Notable Waters: Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers

This outstanding sports fishing region extends from the Waiau River in the north to the Rakaia River south of Christchurch.

Prolific salmon runs between November and March draw thousands of anglers to the major rivers that empty into the Pacific Ocean.

The mighty Rakaia and sea run salmon are synonymous and this river’s reputation is second to none as the top fishery during the seasonal runs of Pacific-bred chinook salmon. It is a sensational feeling when a giant silver salmon takes your spoon and storms out to sea, and it takes every ounce of skill to grapple with the fish and land it on the shingle. Many anglers consider the salmon to be the king of fish and this great quarry presents an irresistible and exhilarating feast of angling pleasure during the salmon run.

The Waimakariri River, just one hour’s drive from Christchurch, is another majestic braided river, and is the longest and most extensively fished waterway in Canterbury. It silently runs its course from the Alps to the Pacific carrying vast amounts of alluvium to be deposited on the plains and discharged into the sea. Its many braided channels have crystal-clear water in the upstream reaches that test the patience of even the most skilled angler spotting the elusive trout. The clear, crisp, refreshing alpine air in the foothills of the Alps makes angling a joy and privilege. The alpine fish tend to be smaller than their plains cousins but their fighting ability and native cunning is certainly equal.

The Hurunui River has excellent runs of trout and salmon fishing water including a very popular lagoon. The Waiau offers wide runs, ripples and pools that often produce trout in superb condition. High country lakes such as Lakes Pearson, Hawdon and Coleridge hold plentiful supplies of brown and rainbow trout for those anglers who enjoy pleasant interludes among the snowy peaks.

Guided salmon and trout fishing safaris on all the main Canterbury Plains rivers can be arranged in Christchurch, Rakaia, Methven, Oxford and Omarama.

Danny de Hek

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