Did you know that half of our native fish species spend time at sea? In this section you'll learn more about some of New Zealand's 35 native fish species.
Juvenile banded kokopu also migrate upstream as whitebait and are often called Golden Bait by whitebaiters.
The bluegill bully is characterised by leopard-like spots on its cheeks and a distinctive blue gill membrane.
These little fish like the gentle flows of slow moving streams.
Whitebaiters call smelt ‘cucumber fish’.
Cryptic and solitary, dwarf galaxias resemble small koaro but are not part of the whitebait run.
Eels migrate up streams as elvers to find suitable adult habitat. After many years they return to the Pacific Ocean to breed and die.
A far more secretive and hard to spot bully is the giant bully.
Juveniles of this fish also migrate upstream as whitebait. The dark olive adult fish can grow to half a metre and are covered with intricate hieroglyphic like gold patterns.
Juvenile inanga are the most dominant species in the whitebait run.
Koaro juveniles are the second most abundant species in the whitebait fishery.
These fish look like slender eels with a sucker like mouth instead of jaws. They spawn in small bush streams.
Learn about New Zealand's five species of mudfish.
There are some bullies that don’t migrate and are therefore more likely to be found upstream of an obstacle that blocks migrating fish.
Redfin bully males are arguably the most spectacularly coloured native fish with fins of bright orange red.
Like the other kokopu species, the shortjawed kokopu starts life as a whitebait – telling the species apart when they are at the whitebait stage is practically impossible.
The streamlined shape of this native fish must have influenced Concord designers.
LEARNZ video: Finding fish
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New Zealand's native freshwater fish factsheet (PDF, 195K)
Find out about the biology of whitebait and whitebait identification
Journey Up the Creek A bilingual website for students follows a trip up the creek to show how fresh water supports life.
Freshwater board and card games
Phone 0800 DOC HOTline (0800 362 468) 24 hour emergency number to report:
Sick or injured wildlifeWhale or dolphin strandings