Kahawai NZ Fishing

Kahawai NZ Fishing: All You Should Know

The Kahawai species, also known as Arripis trutta or Arripis xylabion, can be found all around New Zealand. Whether you’re exploring coastal seas, harbors, estuaries, or even saltier water in rivers, Kahawai is there, waiting for you to cast your line.

Kahawai Fishery Management and Catch Allowances

To ensure the sustainability of the kahawai fishery in New Zealand, the government has implemented a comprehensive fishery management system. The fishery is divided into six management areas, each with its own set of catch allowances. These catch allowances are determined based on the health of the fish population and the impact of fishing activities in each area. By monitoring and regulating the catch limits, the government aims to maintain a balance between fishing and conservation, ensuring the long-term viability of the kahawai population.

In 2016, the catch allowances for kahawai in each management area ranged from 14 to 2,220 tonnes. These allowances are part of New Zealand’s Quota Management System (QMS), which is designed to ensure sustainable fisheries. The QMS helps regulate the amount of fish that can be taken from each area, taking into account factors such as population size, reproductive rates, and ecosystem health. By setting catch limits and closely monitoring fishing activities, the government can make informed decisions to protect the kahawai population and maintain a healthy fishery.

Kahawai Fishery Management Areas and Catch Allowances (2016)

Fishery Management Area

Catch Allowance (tonnes)













It’s important for anglers and commercial fishermen to be aware of the catch limits and regulations in their specific fishing area. By adhering to these guidelines, we can collectively contribute to the sustainable management of the kahawai fishery. It ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy the thrill of kahawai fishing and the abundance of these magnificent fish in New Zealand’s waters.

Stock Status and Conservation Efforts of Kahawai

Kahawai, once facing population declines due to commercial fishing practices, has seen a remarkable recovery in recent years. The largest fishery management area, KAH 1, has experienced a resurgence in kahawai numbers, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts and sustainable fishing practices. The primary goal is to maintain the kahawai population at around 52% of its original level before modern commercial fishing techniques were introduced. This target level ensures the stock remains healthy and resilient.

Conservation efforts for kahawai focus on implementing fishing regulations that protect the population from overfishing. These regulations include catch limits and seasonal closures in specific areas to allow for successful reproduction and replenishment of stocks. Additionally, ongoing research and monitoring programs help assess the health and abundance of kahawai populations, enabling efficient management strategies.

Kahawai Stock Status

To gauge the stock status of kahawai, scientists and fisheries management authorities regularly conduct assessments. These evaluations consider various factors, including population size, growth rates, and reproductive success. The results indicate that kahawai stocks are generally stable and healthy. The population is being effectively managed and regulated to ensure long-term sustainability.

Stock Status







Current Status







Conservation Efforts







The above table summarizes the stock status and conservation efforts for each fishery management area. While some areas have stable populations, KAH 1 stands out as the healthiest. This illustrates the success of focused conservation efforts in maintaining and preserving kahawai stocks.

Description and Habitat of Kahawai

Kahawai is a fascinating fish species found in the coastal waters of New Zealand. These fish have a distinct appearance, with a firm, solid body and a coloration that ranges from gray-blue to blue-green on their back, transitioning to a silvery underside. Along the back and flanks, you can spot scattered dark grey spots, giving them a unique pattern.

Young kahawai have vertical rows of spots below the lateral line, adding to their striking appearance. These fish thrive in coastal environments, with juveniles often preferring shallow areas while adults venture into open water. Their habitat includes coastal seas, harbors, and estuaries, making them accessible to anglers of all levels.


In their natural habitat, kahawai are known for their fast swimming and active lifestyle. They are primarily carnivorous, feeding on smaller fish such as anchovies and yellow-eyed mullet. When hunting, kahawai use a herding technique to drive their prey to the surface before launching an attack.

Kahawai Description and Habitat



Firm, solid body with gray-blue to blue-green color on the back and a silvery underside

Coastal seas, harbors, and estuaries

Scattered dark grey spots on the back and flanks

Prefer shallow areas as juveniles, venture into open water as adults

Vertical rows of spots below the lateral line in young kahawai

Active carnivores, primarily feed on smaller fish like anchovies and yellow-eyed mullet

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, targeting kahawai can provide an exciting fishing experience. Their striking appearance, fast swimming abilities, and voracious feeding habits make them a challenging and rewarding catch. So pack your gear and head to the coastal waters of New Zealand for an unforgettable kahawai fishing adventure.

Kahawai Fishing Tips and Techniques

When it comes to Kahawai fishing, having the right tips and techniques can greatly enhance your chances of a successful catch. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, here are some valuable insights to help you make the most of your Kahawai fishing adventure:

Choose the right gear and bait:

To effectively target Kahawai, it is essential to use suitable gear and bait. Opt for a medium-sized spinning or baitcasting rod and reel combo, preferably with a line strength of 8-12 pounds. Kahawai respond well to a variety of baits, such as pilchards, anchovies, and squid. Additionally, lures that mimic their natural prey, such as small metal slices or soft plastics, can be highly effective in attracting these fish.

Locate the hotspots:

Understanding the preferred habitats of Kahawai is crucial for a successful fishing trip. These fish are commonly found in coastal seas, harbors, and estuaries. Look for areas with strong currents or structure like rocks and reefs, as Kahawai often gather there to feed. Observing birds diving into the water can also indicate the presence of Kahawai, as they are known to hunt in close proximity to schools of baitfish.

Utilize different fishing techniques:

Experimenting with various fishing techniques can significantly increase your chances of hooking a Kahawai. One popular method is surfcasting, where you cast your bait or lure from the beach into deeper water. Another technique is trolling, where you tow a lure behind a moving boat. Casting and retrieving lures, such as soft baits or metal slices, can also be effective. Remember to vary your retrieval speed and add occasional jerks or pauses to mimic the movement of injured baitfish.

Fishing Tip


Use suitable bait and lures

Choose pilchards, anchovies, or squid for bait, and metal slices or soft plastics as lures.

Target Kahawai hotspots

Fish in coastal seas, harbors, and estuaries where Kahawai are commonly found.

Experiment with fishing techniques

Try surfcasting, trolling, and casting and retrieving lures to find the most effective method.

By following these Kahawai fishing tips and techniques, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on an exciting angling adventure. Remember to always check local fishing regulations, respect catch limits, and practice sustainable fishing practices to ensure the long-term preservation of this remarkable fish species in New Zealand’s waters.

Get An Exciting Adventure

Kahawai fishing in New Zealand offers an exhilarating angling adventure, providing both locals and visitors with the ultimate NZ fishing experience. With its diverse habitat and abundant population, there are countless opportunities to enjoy this popular fish species.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of the kahawai fishery, it is crucial to adhere to fishing rules and regulations, including respecting catch limits and adopting sustainable fishing practices. By doing so, we can preserve the kahawai population for future generations to enjoy.

So grab your fishing gear, head to the hotspots along the coastal seas, harbors, and estuaries, and embark on an unforgettable Kahawai NZ fishing journey. Remember to use suitable bait or lures, follow local fishing tips, and consider joining fishing groups or hiring a guide for an enhanced fishing experience.

Good luck and tight lines as you cast your line, relish the thrill of the chase, and reel in your very own Kahawai catch. Enjoy the beauty of New Zealand’s waters and the excitement of Kahawai fishing at its finest.


What is the scientific name of Kahawai?

The scientific name of Kahawai is Arripis trutta or Arripis xylabion.

Where is Kahawai found?

Kahawai is found all around New Zealand in coastal seas, harbours, estuaries, and even in saltier water in rivers.

What do Kahawai primarily eat?

Kahawai primarily eat other fish but also consume krill.

How long can Kahawai live?

Kahawai can live up to 26 years.

What are the fishing rules for Kahawai?

Fishing rules for Kahawai can vary, so it’s important to check the regulations for your specific area before heading out.

How is the Kahawai fishery managed in New Zealand?

New Zealand manages the ocean where Kahawai is found into six fishery management areas, each with different catch limits set under the Quota Management System (QMS).

What is the largest Kahawai fishery management area?

The largest Kahawai fishery management area is KAH 1.

How has the Kahawai population been in recent years?

Since the 2000s, the Kahawai population has been mostly rising, with healthy numbers and sustainable fishing practices.

What is the appearance of Kahawai?

Kahawai have a firm, solid body with a gray-blue to blue-green color above and a silvery underside with scattered dark grey spots on the back and flanks.

Where are Kahawai primarily found?

Kahawai are primarily found in coastal waters, with juveniles preferring shallow areas and adults venturing into open water.

What do Kahawai primarily feed on?

Kahawai primarily feed on smaller fish like anchovies and yellow-eyed mullet.

What fishing techniques can be used for Kahawai?

Kahawai are known to take bait easily, so using suitable bait, such as small fish or krill, can increase your chances of success. They are also attracted to lures that mimic their natural prey.