Whitebait season is between 15th of August to 30th November (inclusive).

There are five species of whitebait. The primarily catchs are of three species, Inanga, Koaro and Banded Kokopu.


Whitebait is a native fish that New Zealanders love to eat. Mokau River is one of the North Island best rivers to catch the delicacy. From the 15th of August to the 30 November local fishermen and woman line the river banks in expectation of a good catch
At the mouth of the Mokau River people use their butterfly shaped nets to scoop up the delicacy just as the tide is making(coming in), up river, white-baiters use a rectangle box shaped set-nets on the ebb (going out) tide that’s when the fish shoal and are close to the river bank.
To use a Mokau River set-net you need a whitebait stand. A stand is a small wooden pier which allows a person to raise and lower their whitebait net. You need a net because the fish are very small. One Whitebait is only 3 cm long (1½inch), three fish equal 1gm and transparent to look at.
To prepare the whitebait to eat, all you have to do, is rinse the fresh fish under cold water, there’s no filleting needed. The whole fish is used head, fins and tail. For a meal you need 30gm (2oz) of fish per person, you can cook them in egg to make scramble eggs or in a fritter. On M.V. GLENROYAL I cook them on the barbecue, in a quiche.