Spring fishing

The start of spring coincides with the beginning of the whitebait season on the West Coast. South Islanders and tourists flock to river entrances with nets to collect the translucent, thin inch-long whitebait.

The start of spring coincides with the beginning of the whitebait season on the West Coast. South Islanders and tourists flock to river entrances with nets to collect the translucent, thin inch-long whitebait, from which mouth-watering whitebait fitters are famous.

South Westland has some of the largest hauls of whitebait in the country and, says Ranger Gary Patterson, ''like panning or prospecting for gold, you never know your luck until you give it a go''.

Spring is considered one of the best times for New Zealand fishing. Rivers have been closed for winter protection and have had no angling pressure for five months, so the fish are often hungry and at their least wary. There are also fewer anglers around before the summer season.

This is a good season for trout fishing and the central North Island''s Lake Tongariro attracts many international anglers. Lake Rotorua, also in the area, is one of the country''s top trout fishing destinations, and one of the best brown trout fisheries in the world. The fly fishing season begins on 1 October and professional guides will take anglers to crystal clear streams accessible by foot or helicopter.

Seafood lovers can tempt their tastebuds without having to catch them at the Seafest Festival in Kaikoura. The magnificent seafood for the extravaganza is plucked straight out of the ocean on the South Island town''s doorstep.

And while in Kaikoura, a must-see is the pod of sperm whales which live off the east coast of the town. A three-hour boat trip takes tourists to view the giant creatures. Kaikoura''s rock shore also has a resident colony of fur seals.