Haumoana's Shirley Hutchinson is hoping whitebait will be on the menu today.

The 72-year-old will be one of a number of keen anglers who will out hoping to catch the delicacy as the season opens this morning.

Mrs Hutchinson has been catching whitebait for about 41 years on the Tukituki River and absolutely loves it.

"It's the camaraderie. Us ladies, we bake muffins and take them down for morning tea and we all have morning tea together. It's the company."


The great-grandmother said she used to come down with her father.

"As kids we used to go down. Our father used to have a stand and we've sort of always fished off the Tuki. Either down the front or down the back. Tuki has always been our river. I was born in Clive," she said.

For the first time in her fishing career she has bought a permit to have a stand set up on the Tukituki.

"It guarantees you [a spot]. Some of them start at five o'clock in the morning. But I don't think you can put your net in until six. But they're down there to keep their [place]. Because first in first served - that's the rules, you see."

Earlier this week, Mrs Hutchinson was setting up her stand, with a little help from her great-grand-daughter Tayla Broad, 3, and Tayla's dad Anthony Broad.

"The mouth on the Tuki ... looks a good one this year," she said.

Mrs Hutchinson is hopeful this year would be a better season than last year.

The Department of Conservation is reminding the public to be aware of the whitebait regulations.

The whitebaiting season runs from August 15 to November 30 everywhere except the West Coast of the South Island, which runs from the September 1 to November 14.

"The [five] whitebait species are iconic and fascinating," DoC freshwater ranger Matt Brady said. "Many New Zealanders enjoy whitebait fishing as a recreational activity. However, most people agree that whitebait numbers have declined over the years."

Pamphlets outlining information on the regulations can be obtained from DoC offices and sports shops and on the website.