Discover Canterbury – Small Farming Towns To Best Fishing Spots

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Read about 'Discover Canterbury – Small Farming Towns To Best Fishing Spots' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

For those visiting Christchurch taking a self-drive tour of the Canterbury Plains, whether for sightseeing, exploring or just in search of the perfect fishing spot, it offers an interesting insight into the local way of life. The roads in Canterbury are flat and gentle and the scenery changes dramatically depending on the season, making it perfect for a mini road trip.

The Canterbury Farming Community

The Canterbury region is famous for its long lived farming heritage, and particularly for its sheep farming. This industry has been the backbone of the local economy ever since the region was first settled back in 1850, and continues to be a large part of the culture. Taking a drive around some of Canterbury’s small farming towns is a great way to really see rural New Zealand at its best. Here are a few of the Canterbury towns not to be missed.


Rangiora is a small town just north of Christchurch and a great first destination for those wanting to learn more about farming. The main street is still in the original building style, and many of the stores cater to the farmers who operate in the area. Check out the Rangiora Museum for its extensive photographic and archival collection or the Northbrook Colonial Museum for a glimpse into New Zealand’s colonial history complete with a replica ‘street’ comprising of shops such as a butcher, chemist and hardware store.


Heading further north will take you towards Loburn and the Ashley River there are many farms along the way. This is true New Zealand farming scenery, and the small towns are great for stopping for a quick bite to eat or a coffee with the locals.


Visitors to Amberley are able to enjoy a number of country activities, including horse riding, fly fishing, farm tours and more. The beach, golf club and camping grounds are just 5 minutes down the road and there are plenty of cafes on the main street to enjoy a good coffee or just watch the world go by.


Heading south of Christchurch you will encounter the small rural township of Rakaia. Home to one of New Zealand’s largest milk processing plants – Synlait, Rakaia is surrounded by the very farms that supply the milk it needs. The Raikaia River is very popular with local fishermen – more on the best spots for fishing below.


Just over an hour from Christchurch, you will find the town of Ashburton. Slightly larger than some of the others Ashburton has a rich farming history and character and serves the farming community that surrounds it. There are five museums in Ashburton, including a vintage railway museum, aviation museum, the Lynn Woodwork museum and a vintage car museum.


Another Canterbury town that should be on your road trip itinerary is Geraldine, a smaller township with a main street filled with artisan and crafts shops, as well as speciality fudge and chocolate stores. There’s also a great little museum with artifacts and personal accounts about life on the Canterbury Plains from settlers, giving an insight into the hardships and trials they experienced in order to farm there.

5 Best Fishing Spots In Canterbury

Summer is a great time of year to be out fishing in Canterbury – the days are long, the weather is fine and the local scenery is just beautiful. With many braided rivers and wide lakes, the Canterbury Plains offer a range of locations to cast your line and try your luck. There are even great swimming or outdoor fun areas as well along the way, so why not take all your friends and family out for the day? Across Canterbury there are many great fishing locations available for public access, just be careful of accidentally straying onto private property.

1. Rakaia River

Offering up the best salmon run anywhere in North Canterbury, the Rakaia river is rightfully a popular spot for enthusiastic fishermen. The river mouth is the best place to try your luck, and it can be accessed on either side via small roads and settlements, though an easy walk may be necessary to find a suitable spot to set up. You can launch boats from the North Rakaia Huts boating ramp, but otherwise there’s a range of places to launch smaller vessels along the banks.

2. Birdling’s Flat

Birdling’s Flat is famous for its rough and tumble waves that make it hazardous for swimming, but perfect for fishing. The rocky beach is a great place to set up and try for red cod, particularly at the change of light. You’ll need special surfcasting equipment and a vehicle that can handle the loose stones on the beach if you want to be able to drive closer to the water.

3. Akaroa Harbour Channel

Most people know Akaroa as the quaint French-flavoured seaside town of Bank’s Peninsula, but it also offers some great fishing opportunities. The harbour channel needs to be accessed by boat (of which there are many, with a number of fishing services available who can also furnish you with rod and gear) to fully make the most of this stunning natural environment. You may even see rare Hector’s dolphins and other native marine species along the way.

4. Waimakariri River

With fishing permitted year round, the Waimakariri River is a great spot for salmon, trout, kahawai and whitebait. A sports fishing licence is required if fishing for trout or salmon. It pays to note access to the south side of the river mouth is by permit only.

5. New Brighton Pier

A great one for the kids – the New Brighton Pier is perfect for rod and reel fishing. From the pier you are able to catch crab, red cod, kahawai, dog fish and mullet. Please note fishing off the Pier on Sundays between 10am and 5pm is not allowed and catch limits do apply.

Please Note: Some areas in Canterbury have restrictions on fishing times and species – please see the Christchurch City Council website for more information. Everyone who fishes recreationally in New Zealand must also follow the Fisheries New Zealand Fishing Rules – see link for more information.

While farming has completely shaped the Canterbury region, and fishing and outdoor pursuits are a huge part of the Canterbury region’s culture, for visitors it is more a chance to get out into the great outdoors in Christchurch and really experience the region’s best. Need transport for your mini Canterbury road trip or fishing trip? USAVE Car Rental has affordable reliable rental cars perfect for any occasion.

Tags: ,

USAVE Freephone