Fishing & Golf

By Tony Milner



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group


By name alone, Kaikōura should be a pretty good place to catch a fish, albeit a crayfish. SH1 from Kaikōura to Cheviot has at least half a dozen access points to the ocean for a variety of fishing operations. Conway Bay is an excellent surfcasting beach, with elephant fish (look at one and understand why) a prized target. Gore Bay is an idyllic settlement, which mainly consists of fishing cribs and tractor/boat sheds. Boat launching, however, is not for the faint-hearted. The soft sandy beach with steep stone banks makes it difficult even on a relatively calm day. Northwesterly winds are optimal as they flatten out the surf. Launch at low tide. Many boats have flipped on the surf returning from fishing so watch for a following sea. Locals use tractors to enable safe launching and retrieving of their crafts. The closest alternative boat ramps are at Kaikōura or Motunau. Numerous reefs have outstanding diving and reef fishing within a few kilometres of the shore, but the soft papa sediment right along the coast gets stirred up easily with winds and swell. Visibility while diving is treated as a luxury only afforded to people of the “softer” northern island; and boaties may be required to dive by Braille on some occasions. But manage to overcome these challenges and be rewarded by a bounty that includes crayfish, pāua, butterfish and blue moki. A sandy beach at the southern end of Gore Bay is a premium spot for gathering tuatuas. MPI officers, paying regular visits, do a great job in protecting the fishery (catch limits were lowered after of the 2016 earthquake to allow local species to recover). The mouth of the Hurunui River, just to the south of Gore Bay, is where the salmon congregate at certain times of the year before heading out to sea. MOTUNAU The Motunau River forms a channel that provides reasonably civilized boat access to the otherwise wild coast. Being only an hour and a half from Christchurch, it is probably the most popular location for boat fishing. The river isn't big, so the channel is only navigable four hours either side of high tide. Smaller aluminium boats are a popular choice. Once at sea, Motunau Island lies directly ahead — reach it in 10 minutes. It provides shelter from the wind and swells and, with its shallow reefs, it is an obvious choice for a snorkel. If the weather gods play nicely with a couple of days of northwesterly winds, visibility might be OK to look for crayfish, pāua, blue moki and butterfish. There are also many reefs, both to the north and south — crayfish-pot buoys chart their location. For a boat fisher, blue cod is the main course (at $40 a kilo why wouldn't it be?). Also find tarakihi, sea perch, school sharks, gurnard and kingfish (over the summer). The offshore, deeper reefs hold hāpuka and big trumpeter.