DANNY DE HEK Entrepreneur Decision Maker Connector Podcaster EducatorNew Zealand is a freshwater angler’s dream location. Our trout and salmon fisheries are rated among the best in the world. Every year thousands of Kiwis and overseas visitors experience the wonderful angling opportunities afforded by our pristine lakes, rivers and streams. Below is some of our main fish species you will find when recreational fishing in New Zealand.

Brown Trout

These were the first of the salmonid species to be acclimatised in New Zealand (in 1867). They are widespread throughout the country in lakes and rivers, achieving body weights in excess of 15 kg. The river fish are distinguished by large black, blue or red spots on the body and a square tail with a few spots. The anal fin has between 10 and 12 rays.

The lake and sea-run fish are silver coloured in summer with dark spots on the body.

Rainbow Trout

Introduced from Californian steelhead stock in 1883 into the Auckland area, and then distributed through the country. They are prolific in lakes, rivers and streams throughout both islands and continue to thrive in an environment that is perfect for their species.

This species has a bewildering array of different forms. Generally the fish have a square tail with radiating spots and a pink stripe may be present along the lateral line. There are spots all over the tail but the rest of the body is usually silver.

Brook Trout

This species was also introduced from California but has not become as widespread as the ubiquitous rainbows. The less aggressive brook trout can’t compete with the rainbow, tend to retreat to stream headwaters and rarely exceed 2 kg.

They are somewhat darker in colour, have a very large mouth and contrasting black and white stripes on their lower fins.

Chinook Salmon

This salmon species is also known in New Zealand as quinnat, another Indian name. They are the largest of the six Pacific species, commonly averaging between 12 and 18 kg.

The sea run and spawning fish have a black mouth and gums, spots covering the whole tail and 15-19 anal fins.


Have a bright red and orange tail and fins and are covered in large shiny scales.


Have two dorsal fins and sharp spikes on the front dorsal fin.


Are distinguished by their deep olive and green body colour.