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Hawke's Bay Whitebait Season opens on the 1st September

In Hawke's Bay you can fish for whitebait between 1 September to 30 October. 

The Regional Council issues resource consents for whitebait stands. Each stand owner must comply with all conditions of their resource consent. Whitebaiting stands can be erected 7 days prior to the start of the season and must be removed within 14 days of the season ending. 

Whitebaiting is only allowed during the season and from:

  • 5 am to 8 pm, or
  • 6 am to 9 pm when New Zealand Daylight Saving is being observed 

The taking of whitebait at all other times is prohibited.

Whitebait fishing gear

Fishing gear must be removed from the water at the end of fishing or the end of the day, whichever is earlier.
Gear cannot be:
  • more than one quarter of the width across the waterway either separately or together with someone else’s gear across the waterway, or
  • 6 m in total length. This length restriction does not apply to the West Coast during the 2022 seasons.
  • ‘Fishing gear’ includes anything that is used or is capable of being used to fish for whitebait but does not include a licensed structure, also called ‘a stand’.
  • ‘Fixed fishing gear’ is gear set on the riverbed to catch fish, except when used from stands. Fixed fishing gear does not need a person to hold it or actively move it to catch fish.
  • Whitebait nets
Drag nets:
  • must be flat when laid on a flat surface
  • cannot be taller than 1 m in height
  • cannot be more than 3.5 m in length, and
  • cannot be used on the West Coast.
  • ‘Drag net’ means any net or any rope, material or device used with the net that is weighted on the bottom edge, and operated by surrounding any whitebait and being drawn through the water.
Other whitebait nets:
  • cannot have a mouth larger than 4.5 m measured around the inside of the net frame, and
  • framing material cannot be wider than 120 mm, and
  • cannot be more than 3.5 m in length.
Possessing whitebait and a whitebait net that is prohibited under these regulations is not allowed.

Stands are not allowed to use:
  • more than one net
  • fishing gear measuring more than 6 m in total length. This does not apply to a stand on the West Coast during the 2022 season.

‘Stand’ means any structure authorised to be used to fish for whitebait under the Resource Management Act 1991. Stands are managed by regional councils.

Further information can be found at: