Fisheries Infosite

Swordfish 1 - 10 (Combined) (SWO1)
Maori name
Scientific name
Xiphias gladius

Physical characteristics

Swordfish are blackish-brown on top with a paler brown underside. They can grow to a maximum length of 330 cm in New Zealand waters, but most caught are around 230 cm.

Life cycle

Swordfish are thought to have a maximum age of around 20 years. There is not much information available about maturity in New Zealand Swordfishes, but data from Australian studies shows maturity being reached at 101 cm for males, and 221 cm for females. Spawning occurs in tropical waters as often as every few days for a period of a few months.


Swordfish are found throughout New Zealand waters during the summer. They are found at depths of 0-900 m, spending nights near the surface and diving deeper during the day. They feed on other fish.

Key statistics
Recreational significance High
Customary significance Unknown
Reported commercial catch1 (tonnes)
Quota value estimate2 (NZ$m)
Exports estimate2 (NZ$m)
1 Reported commercial catch is calculated for the 12 month period to 30/09/2020
2 Quota value and exports are calculated pro-rata to reported commercial catch for the 12 month period to 30/09/2020