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The whitebait season for the West Coast of the South Island from 1 September to 30 October inclusive.

The taking of whitebait at other times is prohibited. Fishing is only permitted between 5am and 8pm, or between 6am and 9pm during New Zealand Daylight Saving.


It is strongly recommended potential whitebaiters familiarise themselves with all necessary regulations, bylaws and restrictions prior to whitebaiting on the Department of Conservation website.

Haast Whitebait Festival

The Whitebait Festival in Haast is held annually during the whitebait season and includes a variety of stalls, face painting, bouncy castle, whitebait cook off and whitebait racing, helicopter flights and live music. There is also normally a market day during the festival.

General notes

All whitebaiters should take note of the following:

  • Whitebaiting is only allowed during the dates as specified above.
  • You cannot fish from any bridge or within 40m of a licensed structure that is being fished.
  • You must not possess whitebait in conjunction with any whitebait net that is not permitted to be used under the whitebait regulations, whether or not that net is being used for fishing at the time.
  • Don’t discard or dump on shore any fish taken when fishing for whitebait.
  • Do not fish for or take whitebait from any area that is not tidal, or that is upstream of any back peg by the side of the rivers specified in the third schedule of the regulations
  • Please do not interfere with, alter or modify the natural bed or banks of any river, stream, estuary or channel.
  • Licensing and administration of whitebait stands is the responsibility of the West Coast Regional Council.

The above summary information has been taken from the Department of Conservation website. 

DoC "Perceptions of whitebait fishing 2022"