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Nelson Marlborough Backcountry Fisheries

The Nelson Marlborough Fish and Game Region manage two backcountry fisheries: the Travers and Goulter Rivers. Anglers must hold a Backcountry Licence Endorsement in addition to their Fishing Licence to fish these waters.

Travers River Backcountry Fishery

Open Season: 1 Oct - 30 Apr

Methods: Fly and Spin

Bag Limit: 1+ (means 2 sports fish where only one may exceed 500 mm in length)

Reach: Upstream of the marked Coldwater / Lakehead DOC walking track river crossing (approximately 1 km upstream from the river's mouth where the river enters Lake Rotoiti).

Access: Access to the Travers backcountry fishery is by boat from St Arnaud to the head of the lake, or via walking tracks either side of Lake Rotoiti. It is also possible to enter into the Travers via the Upper Travers and Mt Angelus tracks. Helicopter access is not permitted.

Green: Open to all licence holders (including day licences)

Orange: Open to holders of a Backcountry Endorsement only.  Please note the Backcountry Fishery extends to the head of the fishery (not in view of map).

Goulter River Backcountry Fishery

Open Season: 1 Oct - 30 Apr

Methods: Fly and Spin

Bag Limit: 1+ (means 2 sports fish where only one may exceed 500mm in length)

Reach: Upstream of the confluence with the Wairau River.

Access: The Goulter River can be accessed via Northbank Road (turn off at SH6 on the North side of the Wairau River).  There is a DOC walking track alongside the river and the Goulter Track carpark is at the end of this road.  It is also possible to access by crossing over the Wairau River from the Southern side of the river at the Power Generation Plant, near Lake Argyle. Helicopter access is permitted into the Goulter as long as the helicopter operator holds a DOC concession, and the open nature of the valley provides many landing options.


Fish and Game will have a strong presence in these rivers this season. Non-compliance with the new regulations is an offence under the Conservation Act and subject to a maximum fine of NZ$5,000.00.


It is expected a short web-based questionnaire will be sent to all  backcountry licence holders to evaluate their backcountry experience. Please be sure you have provided your correct email address. Your email address will be confidential and is strictly for Fish and Game survey purposes only. Nelson Marlborough Fish and Game look forward to the co-operation of all anglers and your assistance to help manage this unique fishery for current and future licence holders.

Etiquette for Backcountry Anglers

Respect fellow anglers and remember they arrived at the river with the same expectations as you.

Never ever cut in front of other anglers regardless of how desperate you are to get to the water.

If fishing solo, invite an angler you meet to fish with you or share the available water. You may both learn something.

Use a quality line which strikes a balance between strength and visibility so that fish can be landed smartly. Do not play fish excessively

When releasing fish, do so with great care and try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible.

For further information contact us