Integrated Catchment Management


Native galaxiids

The distribution and abundance of selected native fish species, derived from the New Zealand Freshwater Fisheries database (July 2002), are shown in the maps below. 

The Motueka has a moderately diverse range of native fish species (as a function of the diversity of habitats and relatively unpolluted water) with 14 of New Zealand's approximately 40 native fish species. 

These include three migratory (ko-aro, giant ko-kopu, inanga) and two non-migratory (Canterbury galaxias, dwarf galaxias) galaxiids, common smelt, three migratory (bluegill, redfin, common) and one non-migratory (upland) bully, torrentfish, two eels (longfin and shortfin), and the lamprey. Five estuarine and marine species (black flounder, kahawai, yellow-eyed mullet, stargazer, cockabully) have also been reported in lower reaches of the river.Non-migratory species such as the dwarf galaxias tend to be found in the upper parts of the catchment. 

The Canterbury galaxiid has been reported once in the catchment, and if still present represents one of only two populations of this species found west of the Main Divide. 

The dwarf galaxias population found in the Motueka has been discovered to be genetically distinct from other Galaxias divergens populations. 

The Motueka is an important recreational and commercial fishery for whitebait (inanga), and would have supported a larger fishery before drainage of the wetlands between the Motueka and Riwaka rivers.


Both species of eel are strong migrants and are found throughout the catchment.

Koura, lamprey and torrent fish


Nonmigratory species such as the upland bully tend to be found in the upper parts of the catchment.

Brown trout

Until recently, brown trout were the only introduced species recorded in the catchment, and are widespread and abundant. 

Brown trout were released in the Motueka River before 1879, and releases of fish continued until the early 1960s. Since then the fishery has been supported by natural wild stock replacement. 

The Motueka River is recognised as a nationally important recreational fishery for brown trout and is renowned for the abundance and size of the trout.

Critical factors for fish habitat in the Motueka include:

  • maintenance of adequate flow of high-quality water;
  • natural fluctuations in river form creating:
    - a sequence of runs, riffles, and pools;
    - natural cover;
  • unimpeded fish passage;
  • low level of fine sediment;
  • good spawning tributaries.

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