Whitebaiting is a popular recreational activity in
Southland, with many people looking forward to the whitebait season each year.
Whitebaiters' Rough Guide to Environment Southland's rules
Environment Southland regulates and manages the permissions to occupy river
banks with whitebait stands. It also has the statutory responsibility to ensure
the maintenance of waterways that contain the different life stages of
The whitebait fishing season for most of New Zealand opens on 15 August and
runs until November 30. The only exception is the West Coast, where the season
is shorter, running from 1 September until 14 November. Fishing is only
permitted between 5:00 am and 8:00 pm or between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm when New
Zealand Daylight Saving is being observed. The taking of whitebait at all other
times is prohibited.
2013 whitebait survey
In an effort to better understand whitebaiting in the Southland region and
what can be done to improve it, a survey was sent out in 2013 to tap into the
knowledge of local whitebaiters. The survey included questions such as how
often stand holders went fishing, the size of their catch, whether they noticed
any negative environmental symptoms and whether they wanted to see any changes.
View the results of the survey.
There are around 660 whitebait stands in Southland, with most being located
on the Mataura, Titiroa and Aparima Rivers. The number of whitebait stands
permitted in Southland is fixed to contain the effects on the environment and
View locations of whitebait stands along with consent information using our online maps.
Sites for whitebait stands are restricted to:
sites that have been lawfully occupied since 1997
sites that are in the immediate vicinity of existing sites, where they can
no longer be practically used (eg due to river bank erosion or changes to
the course of the river)
All stands must be:
against flows and coastal processes
so that they don't deflect flow into the river bank or increase water
velocities near the bank
- no more
than one third of the width of the river, stream, estuary, or channel at
any place or time
the name of the owner on a post or handrail at the entrance to the stand
Stand maintenance and repair
Maintenance and repair of whitebait stands is usually minor, and as long as
the foreshore or seabed around the structure is not permanently disturbed and
no debris from maintenance enters the surrounding environment, no resource
consent is required. If you're unsure whether the repair you're planning to
undertake will require a consent, it's best to check with Environment Southland
first. Call us on 0800 76 88 45, send us an email to email@example.com, or contact us by other means.
Whitebait stands can be replaced when:
original stand has been destroyed;
- a stand
needs to be moved, e.g. due to bank erosion or changes to the course of a
If possible, replacement stands should be located as closely as possible to
the former site.
Replacement stands must be placed a minimum of 20 metres from other existing
Note that if the replacement stand is not completed within one year of the
loss of the original stand, the consent will lapse. In these cases, the right
to establish a stand on the site will be re-allocated.
In January 2018 we clarified our rules on what alterations stand owners are allowed to carry out without a consent. Read the factsheet below for a summary.
Whitebait stand alteration rules
Transfer of ownership
To transfer the ownership of your whitebait stand to another person, you have to fill out a transfer coastal permit form. The cost for this is noted on the form. Section Section 19.2.11 of the Regional Coastal Plan for Southland sets out the requirements for the transfer of a consent.
Form - Transfer Coastal Permit