NZ Fish Identification Guide

Identification guide for less common recreationally caught or seen species, or often misidentified, from New Zealand.
There are plenty of identification books, websites, and pages out there that will go into more detail, and written by people that know more than I ever will...
However, there are regular species that keep cropping up on social media that people request ID for, maybe have several different names, and often are given a wrong or silly answer which just adds to the confusion.
Many species may be common to some fisherman, but not so much to divers, spearos, and vice versa.
I have listed their Common names , (other names), Latin, and maori names.
This will be a work in progress and I hope will be of help to all that use and share it.
Note: Reference photos have been randomly downloaded from the internet and may or may not be copyrighted. If they are, please let me know.  No harm intended.

Sweep.  Scorpis lineolata.  Sometimes mistaken for small Blue maomao


Blue Maomao. Scorpis violacea.  


Demoiselle. Chromis dispilus



Butterfly Perch.  Caesioperca lepidoptera.  oia



Slender Roughy  Optivus elongatus


Bigeye  Pempheris adspersa

Can be confused with Slender Roughy


Rock Cod. Lotella rhacina

Can be confused with Red Cod and Ling


Red Cod. Pseudophycis bachus.  hoka


Ling. Genypterus blacodes.  hoka, hokarari


Spotted Stargazer. Genyagnus monopterygius.  kourepoua


Snake Eel.  Ophisurus serpens


Red Banded Perch.  Hypoplectrodes huntii


 Sea Perch. (Jock Stewart, Scarpy) Helicolenus percoides.  pahuikaroa


Red Scorpionfish. (Red Rock Cod, Grandfather Hapuku)

Scorpaena cardinalis. matua-whapuku



Marblefish. Aplodactylus arctidens.  kiki


Kelpfish. Chironemus marmoratus. hiwihiwi

Often confused with Marblefish


Banded Wrasse. Notolabrus fucicola

Sandager's Wrasse - Male.   Coris sandageri


Sandager's Wrasse - Female


Red Pigfish - Male.  Bodianus unimaculatus.  pakurakura, tanahanaha

Red Pigfish- Female


Scarlet Wrasse.  Pseudolabrus miles.  pau, puwaiwhakarua

Can be mistaken for Red Pigfish


Foxfish. Bodianus frenchii

Can be mistaken for Red Pigfish


Silver Drummer.  Kyphosus sydneyanus

Sometimes confused with Parore


Parore.  Girella tricuspidata.  (Luderick in Australia)

Sometimes confused with Silver Drummer, and Porae by name


Porae.  Nemadactylus douglasii (Morwong in Australia)

Sometimes confused with Parore by name



Eagle Ray  Myliobatis tenuicaudatus. whairepo


Shorttail Stingray  Bathytoshia brevicaudata.  whai



Barracouta.  Thyrsites atun.  manga

Member of the Snake Mackerel family - not to be confused with the tropical Barracuda


 Jack Mackerel.   hauture

Three Jack mackerel species are found around New Zealand:

Trachurus declivis, T. novaezelandiae, and T. murphyi,

all pelagic species belonging to the Carangidae family

(trevallies, kingfishes).


Koheru.  Decapterus koheru

Sometimes mistaken for Jack Mackerel


Yelloweye Mullet.  Aldrichetta forsteri.  aua

Often incorrectly called herrings or sprats


Sprat. Sprattus muelleri


Pilchard. Sardinops neopilchardus





Skipjack Tuna.  Katsuwonus pelamis

Often incorrectly called and sold as Bonito


Bonito. Sarda spp.

From the family of Scombrids not found in NZ,

closely resembling Skipjack Tuna





Mako Isurus oxyrinchus (top)

vs Blue Shark Prionace glauca Mango pounamu

False Killer whale vs Pilot Whale
Sushi vs Sashimi  :)