Greetings from New Zealand

Hi, I have been busy reading on the forum over the last week and should introduce myself. My name is Howie and I live in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. A couple of months ago I followed Tristan on YouTube and became fascinated with Tenkara, to my disbelief I found that New Zealand freshwater fishery regulations state that fixed line fishing is illegal, not to be deterred I approached the CEO of Otago Fish and Game and put my case forward for Tenkara. He took it to the council and I have been issued with a special permit to fish Tenkara for the season with the provision that I document the season and report back to the council. I hope that in the future Tenkara becomes both a legal and enjoyable option for New Zealanders.


Welcome from the great state of Texas! Looks like the future of Tenkara in New Zealand is in your hands. Hahaha. No pressure. On a serious note this forum has lots of very good information. Please keep us updated on your successes in New Zealand. If you have any specific questions feel free to reach out.

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Welcome to the forum @HowieNZ1, we’re glad that you’ve joined us. Please be sure to share with us your adventures for the year. I’m guessing your season is just getting started, while for some of us (like here in Vermont, US) our season closed recently. Congratulations for persisting and getting your special permit. I hope you can convince them to permanently change the rules.

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Welcome! That’s fantastic news that they let you use Tenkara for the season. It does seem silly that they’d have a restriction on it, do you know the history behind that or the logic? I was just doing some research on where to go fish in New Zealand as that’s a destination I’d like to go and do some fly fishing. It would be nice to use Tenkara there so I hope they rethink that. Let us know how it goes and if you have any questions.

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Fixed line fish in for trout illegal in NZ, no s—t? Hooda thunkit. Good on you for taking it to the game commission to see if a change an be made.

Will you be deliberately targeting the smaller fish? Or using Steelhead level fixed line gear and having a go at some of your massive fish?

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If I catch the 3-hour plane over from Australia to you, will the permit allow “Howard Halliday and mate” to go tenkara fishing?


@Nick_Pavlovski, Hi Nick, one never knows what is possible😃.
@JeffR Hi Jeff, thanks for the welcome and I look forward to reporting on my successes and no doubt many shall we say learning experiences.
@Peder, Hi Peder, thanks for the welcome and yes our season has just started but we are being plagued with excessive rain and wind, typical South Island Spring weather. I have had success but also been skunked on the last 4 occasions :laughing:. I genuinely would like to see Tenkara available to all New Zealander and visitors to our country.
@Scott_T Hi Scott, the thing about New Zealand, the smallest stream can hold very large trout. My first fish I brought to the bank was in excess of 5lbs before it unhooked itself and swam away, the second smashed me in less than 15 seconds, lots to learn🙂.
@cc121 Thanks for the welcome, I guess our founding fathers in Fish and Game were fly fisherman from the land of old and thought of people attaching a piece of string with a hook on it to the end of a pole wasn’t cricket.
Cheers Howie

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Welcome aboard! I’m happy to hear that the videos got you hooked. They’re a lot of fun to make.

Is the fixed line fishing ban in all regions in New Zealand or just in some?

@TenkaraAddict Thanks for the welcome, yes Fixed line fishing is currently banned in all freshwater areas in New Zealand.
Cheers Howie

Hello Howie, welcome to 10CT. Looking forward to your future contributions.

I am a little bit surprised by you being told tenkara is illegal in NZ, because I have seen videos of tenkara fishing in NZ going back to 2011. Such as this one uploaded by Yvon Zill on vimeo. He posted several other tenkara videos about the same time.

Tenkara fly-fishing - running after trout in New Zealand

Tenkara fly-fishing - running after trout in New Zealand

I am not sure of the date of the posting of this next blog post, but he only mentions tenkara being illegal on fly fishing only streams. Here in the USA I am aware some people in some states have run into the same restriction. Tenkara is okay, except on streams designated fly-fishing only. Considered illegal on those streams because their local regulations require a reel on the rod.

On the Tenkara USA forum there is a thread about tenkara fishing in NZ going back to 2010, with the most recent post in the thread May 2019. Which also mentions the restrictive regulations.

In a post dated Dec. 2012 user Yakfisherkarl wrote, “… I’m an honorary ranger for Fish and Game New Zealand (Northland) and having talked with a full time colleague and our boss, it was decided that a feasibility study should be conducted. The two of us have been given special permits to do this over the present season and to report our findings for presentation to council, which I hope will build towards making this style of fishing legal…” Tenkara in New Zealand?

Anyway, maybe if you seek out Yvon Zill , Tony Bishop or Yakfisherkarl (if he can be identified locally) they may have already faced this illegality issue and have some insight into progress or lack of progress, they have made dealing with the regulations.

Good luck. :smile:

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@dwalker, thanks for you welcome, yes I have read and seen those articles, that is the reason I went to Otago Fish and Game to try and get some clarification. The regulations are very clear and the Otago CEO actually rang the National CEO and issuing me with a special permit was the best way forward🙂

2019/20 Sports Fishing Regulations

. Authorised Tackle

2.1 No licence holder shall fish for trout or salmon except by using a rod and running line and authorised lure (as defined in clause 8 of this First Schedule).

Copy of my Special Permit

Cheers Howie


Hope your efforts are successful in the land of the long white cloud.

I aspire to fish in your country.

Hope you have fun here. It’s a pretty cool crowd.

Ah, well, It’s regrettable that in almost a decade there has been no progress to remove restrictions on tenkara fishing in NZ. Whether it is total restriction or only restricted on fly-fishing only streams.

However, I also do not know if there has been any progress in removing tenkara fishing restrictions here in locations where it exist. It is not a problem where I live. Thus it is an issue I do not follow closely.

I’ve been told by several people (including a fishing guide) that tenkara is not legal in my neighboring state of New Hampshire. Similar to New Zealand, they define fishing very specifically with a rod and reel. In the fly fishing only areas, the definitions are even stricter. I guess a few people have tried challenging it but their state legislature won’t reconsider. I guess the state motto holds true with this too, “Live free or die”. Although I never fish there, because the fishing license in New Hampshire is three times the price of what I pay at home and twice what I have to pay for Massachusetts.

Popularity and or a vote doesn’t mean something is right.

I present a lynching as an example of horrible idea where many people make a really bad decision.

The other is the current POTUS. He was voted in by a lot of people.

In all that I do, I depend on my own findings and best choices. Often I am one against many. And it turns out ok every time.

I would have approached the problem just as he did and got a permit. If it’s not legal when I go? Long light fly rod…

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Today I popped out to a little lake 5 minutes from home and managed to land this little rainbow


Hi Howie,
Just wanted to know how this whole thing wrapped up. Did any legislation change?

Hey there! Going to NZ in March. North Island.
What’s the current status on Tenkara?
Still seen as banned due to no reel?

I read the regs, asked around, and as far as I could tell its still a no-go for trout. I Couldn’t make it happen so I just did spin fishing while I was there.

Technically, the waters designed as ‘course’ allow fixed line fishing in NZ, but they’re not the kind of water I’d bring a tenkara rod to. Some details: Coarse fishing in New Zealand