Whitebait season

The whitebait season for the West Coast of the South Island is 1 September to 14 November 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.


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. It is strongly recommended potential whitebaiters familiarise themselves with all necessary regulations, bylaws and restrictions prior to whitebaiting.

Fishing and Whitebaiting in the Erua Moana Lagoon and Grey River

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act) impacts on whitebaiting and fishing activities in the Grey River and Erua Moana lagoon and Council’s responsibilities to ensure the safety of whitebaiters as these locations could be classed as “workplaces” for the purposes of the Act under certain circumstances.

  • Grey District Council wants the practice of whitebaiting in the Grey River to continue and has looked at what it can do to ensure this is the case. Council advises that the following arrangements will be in force with immediate effect:
  • The current prohibition of structures and shelters on the Grey River bank (please see below) will remain in place and will allow the practice of whitebaiting from within the Council controlled area of the Grey River (Cobden Bridge to the Port operational area) to continue. It is important that no whitebaiting takes place from or from within any structures as it triggers the “workplace” definition under the Act. Whitebaiters are asked to make sure they keep safe at all times.
  • No whitebaiting will be allowed within the Port operational area (including from under wharves).
  • The practice of recreational fishermen fishing from any Council wharf or the breakwaters (including the lower level of the Blaketown breakwater) unfortunately has to be prohibited. These Council owned structures make it a “workplace” under the Act and Council as a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) is responsible for the safety of persons within the “workplace” (using the structures). NOTE: This refers to the Fishermans Lagoon (a new prohibited area) and areas of the breakwaters that are already blocked off.
  • Fishing and whitebaiting from the rocks along the riverbank (including along the roads to the Cobden and Blaketown breakwaters) is still acceptable, as long as no structures are involved.

Dated 10 August 2016

Greymouth floodwall restrictions

Whitebaiting structures and camping on the Greymouth floodwall, Grey River and surrounds

Over the years Council has received many complaints about whitebaiting on the Grey River. This led Council to make a resolution to regulate aspects of whitebaiting on the Grey River and surrounds from the site of the old Cobden Rail Bridge to the mouth of the Grey River.

In summary, Grey District Council will take the following actions against people who build whitebait structures or camp within the area noted above:

  1. Issue $200 Infringement Notices pursuant to the Freedom Camping Act 2011 and Council’s current Freedom Camping Bylaw.
  2. Remove all works and material associated with whitebait structures currently on the floodwall.
  3. Enforce the rule that no structures are to be built on the floodwall. This includes awnings and sunscreens of a temporary nature.
  4. Enforce the camping provisions of the Public Places Bylaw in all areas of the Grey River and surrounds.
  5. Police car parking to ensure no unlawful parking by whitebaiters including the parking of vehicles on the floodwall area in the vicinity of the big rock and along the floodwall to the Grey River Rail Bridge.
  6. Will, where it removes works or materials involved in a contravention, recover from the owner all expenses involved in the removal and storage thereof.
  7. May commence proceedings against any person failing to comply with provisions 2 and 3 above pursuant to the Local Government Act 2002 and NZS 9201: Part 2: 1999 Model General Bylaws – Public Places. A person who is convicted of such offences is liable for a fine not exceeding $5,000 per offence.

Date of Council resolution: 10 November 2003

Access to Cobden Island

In previous years Council have issued keys for the gate so people can access Cobden Island. However, due to frequent vandalism to the gate over the past few years, we will now be unlocking the gate from 22 August 2020 and leaving it open for people to access the area until 15 November 2020, when it will be locked back up again.

Page reviewed: 04 Aug 2020 4:40pm