Gurnard are found over an open sandy or muddy bottom, as this is where they hunt paddle crabs and shrimp.
They generally live in shallow water but can also be caught in offshore waters over 100m deep. During spawning in summer they will be most commonly found in 40 – 50m of water, but at other times of the year, they are found in 15 – 30m of water.
The best places in New Zealand to find gurnard are Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington, Gisborne, Marlborough, Tasman, Nelson, North Canterbury, Manukau Harbour, and Kaipara Harbour. Smaller populations exist in the Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, and Northland’s east coast.
Gurnard can be caught all year round across the North Island, with conditions peaking before spawning in October – November and again post spawn March – June.
They’re most commonly found along the southern coastlines from Shark Bay in Western Australia around to the east coast (including Tasmania), as far north as the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
You’ll find gurnard from around 80m down to the continental shelf, usually over sand or broken ground near reefs, but can also be found in shallower waters.