Fishing from Mid Greenstone Hut

Updated May 2016. The below text is copied from the Fish and Game Website

Greenstone River

Controlled Period: 1 Feb – 31 March
Method: Fly Only
Bag Limit: 1

A Controlled Fishery Period applies from 1st February to 31st March each season on the Upper Greenstone River, from its source at Lake McKellar to the Sly Burn confluence. The aim of the Greenstone Controlled Fishery is to manage angling pressure on the Upper Greenstone River during the peak angling season in order to maintain a high quality angling and wilderness experience.

The lower Greenstone (upstream of the first swing bridge) and below the Slyburn confluence, as well as the Caples River, remains open to all Whole Season Licence holders with an Otago Backcountry Endorsement throughout the season (1 November – 31 May).

The Controlled Fishery Period requires anglers to make a booking in order to fish the Upper Greenstone River and ensures anglers will have exclusive angling access to a determined stretch of river (a beat) for the period of their booking.

During the Controlled Fishery the Upper Greenstone is separated into 3 beats (see map), which are marked on the access track with Fish & Game signage.

The beats are booked via an online booking system which operates on a first come, first served basis.

A booking may be made for one primary angler and one companion angler. To make a booking you will require the appropriate Whole Season Fishing Licence number with an Otago Backcountry Endorsement for both the primary and any companion angler.

A booking may be made for one day and one beat at a time. To fish a consecutive day on the same or a different beat you must re-enter the booking system and make an additional booking. Please be considerate of other anglers - we recommend a limit of two consecutive days fishing per trip.

Bookings can only be made up to five days in advance of your intended fishing trip, including on the intended day of fishing.

Commercial Guides

Guides making a booking for a commercial trip must provide the Whole Season Fishing Licence number and the Backcountry Licence number of the client/s they intend on guiding. This will ensure that the booking is issued in the name of the client/s. You must also indicate that the anglers will be guided when prompted by the online booking system.

Please be aware your clients will not be compliant with Controlled Fishery Regulations if they are not listed on the booking.

Guides may accompany a maximum of 2 clients (as long as they themselves are not fishing).  If accompanying an individual client, guides may fish provided they are included on the booking as the companion angler.

The accuracy of the information provided is vital to the effective monitoring and management of our backcountry fisheries.


Otago Fish and Game will be monitoring compliance within the Greenstone Controlled Fishery as well as use of the booking system.  Non-compliance with Backcountry and Controlled Fishery Regulations is an offence under the Conservation Act and subject to a maximum fine of $5,000. Otago Fish and Game look forward to your cooperation and encourage you to show courtesy and respect to one another.

Please be considerate and cancel your booking at the earliest opportunity if your plans change and you no longer intend to use it.

Types of Licence

There are nine different types of licence on offer

Remember that overseas visitors planning to fish for more than a couple of days, must buy a Non-Resident Licence.

Full season licences (apart from Local Area) can be used anywhere in New Zealand except the Taupo area, which is administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC). For more information on the regulations for Taupo, visit DOC’s website:

Please note that if you buy a Local Area Licence you can only fish in the ONE region you nominated – so you must be aware of that region’s boundaries. To fish the whole country (except Taupo), you should buy a Whole Season or one of the other full season licences.

  • You must have your licence with you whenever you are fishing or carrying assembled fishing gear.
  • Report lost or stolen licences to your local Fish & Game office and they can issue you with a replacement.
  • Back Country Licence and Controlled Fishery Licence:To fish designated backcountry rivers including the Greenstone, you must apply for a Backcountry Endorsement, available at no extra cost once you have purchased the appropriate Whole Season Licence.

To fish the Greenstone which is a designated backcountry fishery, a Backcountry Endorsement is required on your licence.

You first require one of these qualifying Whole Season Sports Fishing Licences:

  • Whole Season (Adult, Junior or Child)
  • Family
  • Loyal Senior
  • Local Area (only qualifies for an endorsement in that region)
  • Non Resident

If you are a visitor from overseas you must buy a Non-Resident Licence.

Once you have obtained a qualifying licence you can then apply for a Backcountry Endorsement.

Currently there are three Fish & Game regions within New Zealand with designated backcountry fisheries; WellingtonOtago and Southland. When applying for your Backcountry Endorsement you must select each region you intend to fish. You can add another region to your licence at any time.

Once your Backcountry Endorsement application is complete you will receive an updated copy of your licence by email showing the Backcountry Endorsement stamp and listing the regions for which you are endorsed. You must carry this copy of your licence when fishing designated backcountry rivers.

You will no longer be issued a backcountry licence number.

Please ensure that your correct personal email address is included on the application page. Online surveys are vital to the effective management of our backcountry waters and we require your participation.

Anglers intending to fish a Controlled Fishery must first obtain a Whole Season Licence and regional Backcountry Endorsement specific to the region where the Controlled Fishery is located.

The following Otago rivers are designated backcountry fisheries and require a Backcountry Endorsement:

The Greenstone River

Open Season: 1 Nov – 31 May
Method: Fly Only
Bag limit: 1
Reach: The designated backcountry reach of the Greenstone River begins upstream of the first swing bridge situated closest to the river mouth, on the Elfin Bay / Lake Rere walking track, and extends to the source at Lake McKellar.  All tributary streams flowing into the Greenstone River are designated backcountry waters including the Caples River.

A Controlled Fishery also applies in the Upper Greenstone above the Sly Burn confluence from (1 Feb – 31) March each season.

Caples River

Open Season: 1 Nov – 31 May
Method: Fly Only
Bag limit: 1
Reach: The entire length of the Caples River.


For map and access information check the fish and game website

Etiquette for Otago 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.

Prevent the spread of freshwater pests

Didymo is a microscopic pest that can be spread by a single drop of water. Unfortunately it is fairly widespread in the Otago Region. Please be vigilant when travelling between waterways and especially between regions. The North Island is Didymo free. Always check, Clean, and Dry anything that has come into contact with freshwater. For detailed information and specific cleaning guidelines refer to the Ministry of Primary Industries website at

Compliance Monitoring

Fish and Game will be monitoring compliance on designated backcountry fisheries during the season. Non-compliance with the backcountry licence and controlled period licence requirements is an offence under the Conservation Act and subject to a maximum fine of $5000.

Fish and Game look forward to your cooperation in the management of these fisheries and we encourage you to show courtesy and respect to one another.