Life on the Coast

A Whitebaiting Story

Is this iconic West Coast pursuit under threat?

Whitebait and the West Coast are nearly synonymous. During the season you can’t drive far on the Coast without coming across road-side stalls, tea rooms, take-away bars and restaurants with a whitebait sandwich or a whitebait patty to sell.

And to partake of the delicacy is almost a rite of passage; a sure sign that you have touched on a true West Coast experience.

Whitebaiting has come under the official spotlight in recent times with talk that the fishery needs to be rested, protected and given a chance to recuperate; the premise being that it is in danger of being irreparably damaged under the current regulations. So the rules and regulations look likely to be changed and these changes will no doubt affect the livelihood of some. The catches on the Coast are legendry and questions as to the sustainability of the catch, are being asked.

Whatever the final outcome of these changes maybe, there will be an impact and we will have to adapt to the new rules.

In the meantime, Coaster’s Weekly brings you some video footage of this iconic West Coast pursuit. It captures the magnitude of this fishing spectacle and lets you see just how important the activity is to the economic and social well-being of the Coast. Our footage is mostly from the 2019 season.

South Westland Mecca

South Westland is the hunting and fishing mecca of the South Island. Other whitebaiters in the far corner of the Coast believe the whitebaiting is as good this year as most other years, despite what politicians say. Check out this fabulous mecca here:

A whitebaiting adventure

Six weeks whitebaiting on the West Coast with mates, sound like the perfect dream. But dreams do come true, as this clip from  2019 reveals:


And five days of wind and rain is not enough to deter keen enthusiasts from getting out with their nets in Haast. The weather is forgotten as soon as the whitebait become more cooperative:


When the call rings up and down the river and along the coast, “They are running, they are running,” you can be sure the pilgrimage to the Coast’s rivers takes on an almost religious fervor. When they run, they run, as this clip shows.