Central area fishing rules

Recreational fishing rules for the Central area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.

What you need to know

Central fishing area map


This area covers the lower half of the North Island.

All recreational fishing – including potting, netting and all other fishing methods – is covered by rules.

Remember, if you're a recreational fisher, selling any fish or shellfish you catch is illegal.



Temporary closure of Waimārama

From 23 December 2020 to 22 December 2022, harvesting blackfoot pāua from the coastline to the north and south of Waimārama, including around Te Motu o Kura / Bare Island, is prohibited.

The closure supports the rāhui, put in place by Ngāi Hapū o Waimārama. Make sure you are up to date with the rules. 

Map of Waimārama closure [PDF, 6.5 MB]

Waimārama temporary closure notice – New Zealand Gazette

New netting restrictions

From 1 October 2020, new fishing measures are in place to support the threat management plan for Hector's and Māui dolphins. The use of recreational and commercial set nets is prohibited in a number of areas across the country, and the trawl prohibition within the central Māui dolphin habitat zone has been extended. Drift netting is prohibited in all New Zealand waters.

Make sure you are up to date. To learn more about the changes see the "closures and restrictions" section below, or download the rules brochure.

New blue cod rules

From 1 July 2020, the minimum catch size of blue cod is standardised to 33cm across most areas. A "traffic light system" is used to indicate the daily bag limit for different areas.

Make sure you are up to date. To learn more about the changes see the "closures and restrictions" section below, or download the rules brochure.


Ways to check the rules

This page has a summary of:

You can also check rules in our brochures, use the free NZ Fishing Rules app, or text us. You'll also see signs about rules at many fishing spots.

Get a brochure

Other languages

Download the free NZ Fishing Rules app

Or free text "app" to 9889 to be sent the links to your phone. Once installed, the app will work without an internet connection.

Use our free text service

Send a free text to 9889 with the name of a species.

For example, text "blue cod" or "pāua" to 9889. You'll be sent legal bag and size limits for that species by return text.

 Limits, closures, and restrictions

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Finfish bag and size limits

A summary of the finfish daily bag and size limits.

In the Central area there is a combined maximum daily bag limit of 20 of any combination of species listed in Table 1 (unless shown as "No limit"). Individual species limit must not be exceeded.

Individual limits, over and above the combined bag, apply to the species listed in Table 2. There is no limit for species not named in either Table 1 or 2.

Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for finfish within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.

Table 1 - combined bag

Finfish Species Min fish length (cm) Max daily limit per fisher Min set net mesh size (mm)

Blue Cod, Taranaki to Titahi Bay

Blue cod rules changing from 1 July 2020

33 10 100

Blue Cod, Titahi Bay South

Blue cod rules changing from 1 July 2020

33 20 100
Blue Moki 40 20 114
Bluenose 5 160
Butterfish 35 20 108
Elephant fish 20 150
Flatfish (except Sand flounder) 25 20 100
Garfish (piper) No limit 25
Herrings No limit 25
John Dory 20 100
Kahawai 20 100
Grey Mullet 20 100
Parore 20 100
Pilchard No limit 25
Porae 20 100
Red Cod 25 20 100
Red gurnard 25 20 100
Red moki 40 20 115
Red snapper 20 100
Rig 20 150
Sand flounder 23 20 100
School shark 20 150
Tarakihi 25 20 100
Trevally 25 20 100
Trumpeter 35 No limit 100
Yellow-eyed mullet No limit 25
All others No limit 100

Table 2 - additional to combined bag

Finfish Species Min fish length (cm) Max daily limit per fisher Min set net mesh size (mm)
Freshwater eels 6 12 (Fyke net)
Groper/Hapuku/Bass Daily bag limit of 5 with no more than 3 kingfish

Kingfish 75 100
Snapper 27 10 100
Shellfish bag and size limits
A summary of the shellfish daily bag and size limits.

Shellfish are taken when they cannot freely return to the water – for example, when they are placed into a catch bag or similar. At no time while gathering may you be in possession of more than your daily limit.

Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for shellfish within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.

Shellfish Species Max daily limit per fisher Min size (mm)
Cockles 150 none
Kina (sea eggs) 50 none
Mussels 50 none
– Dredge*
– Rock & Pacific


– Ordinary*
– Yellow foot*
– Taranaki Pāua Area


Pipi 150 none
(Season: 15 Jul to 14 Feb)
20 100
Toheroa# Prohibited Prohibited
Tuatua 150 none
All others (combined) • 50 none

*  Dredge oyster, pāua and scallop must be landed in the shell and cannot be shucked  or shelled seaward of the mean high water mark. This does not include dredge oysters and scallops shucked onboard the vessel for immediate consumption within daily bag limits.

†  Rock oysters and pacific oysters must not be opened while they adhere to the object on which they grow.
Toheroa must not be taken, possessed, or disturbed unless an open season is declared by the Director-General of MPI.

+  Limited provision allows a diver on a vessel to gather extra bag limits of oysters and scallops for up to 2 other people acting in a dive safety capacity from that vessel. The safety people must be on-board the vessel, and acting in that capacity, when the diving is undertaken. If only one safety person is on-board the vessel, only 1 extra bag limit may be taken. A maximum of 2 extra bag limits may be taken per vessel, regardless of the number of people diving.

• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above, and includes all crabs, limpets, starfish, periwinkles, whelks, barnacles and freshwater crayfish (koura).

Rock lobster/Crayfish

A summary of the rock lobster/crayfish daily bag and size limits.

Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for rock lobster within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.

Daily bag limits

Maximum of 6 rock lobster (both species combined) on any one day. Except for eastern Bay of Plenty from Cape Runaway to East Cape Lighthouse where a total of 3 spiny rock lobsters can be taken within the combined limit. Up to 3 spiny rock lobsters can be taken, and the remainder (up to 6 in total) can be packhorse rock lobster. If no spiny rock lobsters are taken at the same time, 6 packhorse lobsters can be taken.

Spiny rock lobster minimum size

Measure the tail width in a straight line between the tips of the two large (primary) spines on the second segment of the tail. If you are unsure of the sex, use the 60mm measurement.

Packhorse lobster minimum size

Measure the tail length along the underside in a straight line from the rear of the calcified bar on the first segment to the tip of the middle fan of the tail. Must have a tail length of at least 216mm (male and female).

Additional rules and protections

There are rules and protections for gathering rock lobster/crayfish that cover: protected types, gathering methods, pot construction and use.

In eastern Bay of Plenty from Cape Runaway to East Cape Lighthouse telson clipping is required for all recreationally harvested spiny rock lobsters. The last third of the telson (central part of the tail fan) must be cut off so that it is noticeably shorter than the other sections of the tail fan. This must be done to all legal spiny rock lobsters as soon as they are taken.

Labelled diagram of a telson-clipped lobster [PDF, 551 KB]

Do not telson clip any packhorse rock lobsters.

For more details check the:

Closures and restrictions

A summary of areas where catch limits and sizes may be different. More information is in the rules brochure.

Blue cod restrictions

Minimum pot mesh size: 54 mm. Blue cod pots must use rigid square mesh with a minimum inside dimension of 54mm.

Accumulation limit: When your fishing trip is more than one day, if you can prove you have not taken more than the daily bag limit on any given day you can possess 2 daily bag limits of blue cod.

Measurable state: All blue cod must be landed whole or gutted. Fishers may possess blue cod in another state if it is immediately eaten on board the fishing vessel from which it was taken. Any fish eaten, form part of the daily limit.

Set netting restrictions

Net restrictions extend around Taranaki from Pariokariwa Point south to Hawera, then from Pariokariwa Point south to the Waiwhakaiho River between 2 and 7 nautical miles offshore. The closure out to 7 nautical miles extends north to Maunganui Bluff. Restrictions also extend for 4 nautical miles offshore from Hawera south to the Wellington Harbour entrance.

Map showing the areas affected by set net restrictions.

Find out about the new restrictions

Closed areas

No fishing is allowed, this includes Marine Reserves.

  • Kāpiti Marine Reserve (Eastern and Western)
  • Tapuae Marine Reserve
  • Taputeranga Marine Reserve
  • Te Angiangi Marine Reserve
  • Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve
  • Parininihi Marine Reserve

Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Restricted areas

Particular fishing methods are banned or catch/bag limits for particular species are different.

  • Pukerua Bay – only hand-held lines to be used
  • Taranaki – no set netting; different size limit for paua
  • Cape Runaway – no set netting
  • Pāuatahanui Inlet – no set netting
  • Wairoa Hard – no netting of any kind
  • Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area – No netting or longlines/Kontiki
  • Waimarama [PDF, 6.5 MB] – no taking of blackfoot pāua

Learn more about the Pukerua Bay closure [PDF, 3.6 MB]

Mātaitai reserves

Areas where tangata whenua manage non-commercial fishing through bylaws:

Toka Tāmure – Mahia Peninsula

Horokaka – Mahia Peninsula

Food safety warnings

Warnings are issued when shellfish are unsafe to eat because of contamination with biotoxin.

Report poaching

Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email poacher@mpi.govt.nz

You can help us by providing:

  • the location
  • vehicle/trailer registration number
  • boat name
  • description of the person

When reporting any suspected poaching put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.

It is illegal to buy, sell or swap recreationally caught seafood

These are offences against the Fisheries Act which can result in fines up to $250,000.

Find out more

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